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splendid > reviews > 7/27/2005
Certain Stars
Certain Stars
Times Like These Call for Tambourines
Self-Released


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Wild Consumption"

Buy me now
There's something to be said for bands that can squeeze various forms of power pop, lo-fi rock and even Nick Drake folk into a single album -- and make it sound like it was recorded in a garage. Wisconsin-based Certain Stars pull it off on Times Like These Call for Tambourines, a catchy tale about... well, it's hard to tell. Given the album's clever lyrical references to St. Peter's smile ("Elks") and Jack Kerouac ("Take Oxygen Minor" ), you may assume that they aced songwriting 101, but most of the time it's hard to tell what they're actually singing about. "Everyone Now" contradictorily mentions whispering clouds that cry out loud, and "Tour de Lance" makes umpteen references to "it", a noun the song never defines ("It's like it's eternal / it always will stay / it's right there beside you / for every day"). With highlights like "Wild Consumption", which sounds like a forgotten Pink Moon track, and the slightly off-kilter Americana-via-Pavement song "Take a Chance on Me", it's easy to overlook the album's lack of cohesiveness. Despite Certain Stars' sonic and lyrical inconsistencies, These Times is a subtle treasure.


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