The Chinese Stars – Listen To Your Left Brain
Label: 31G Records
Release Date: April 24, 2007
You’ve got to respect the odd man out. Those people that dare to be different are the very few history tends to remember. Now, don’t take that statement as blatant worshiping of The Chinese Stars. I’m not saying people are going to revere their music 45 years down the road, but I am saying that they are challenging the notion of certain labels being known only for certain things. Not to take anything away from the band (after all, this is about them), but being on Justin Pearson’s 31G label is notable in it’s own right. If you’ve heard The Locust or Swing Kids, to a certain extent, you know the type of bands on the label. The Chinese Stars are neither thrash nor grind. However, they are easily likeable. And really, that’s all that matters.
Mixing dance-punk and funk grooves sounds like a recipe for cheese, but The Chinese Stars execute (almost) flawlessly. Bouncy, distorted bass lines and screechy guitars permeate the entire release, while Eric Paul’s equally scratchy voice serves as narrator to a world full of vice.
Paul has a talent I truly envy. He can say some profound shit without putting himself on a pedestal. As a dude that is always looking for a way to connect with an audience (Hi mom!), this is a constant struggle. When the chorus of “Cold Cold Cold” kicks in, the first inclination is to throw away the lyrics as juvenile, but listen again: “There are good girls. And there are bad girls. Then there are girls that are cold cold cold.” Whoa. He’s right. Damn him for being so right.
Listen To Your Left Brain could get kids on the dance floor just as easily as it could get them around a coffee table discussing lyrical content. “Drugs And Sunshine” starts with a simple drumbeat and the catchiest, most involved guitar riff throughout. Then, just as you’re sweating on the floor, Paul comes in with, “I miss the drugs and the sunshine.” Now you’re conflicted. But it’s that good kind of conflicted. The type where you feel like you made the right decision no matter what.
The album is short, but this is a smart move. The Chinese Stars’ formula might be refreshing at first, but after about 40 minutes, the dirty bass and spacey synths (“The Drowning”) tend to blend into one long track. Also, Paul’s vocals are hit or miss, which can hurt the comprehension of the wonderful lyrics. But ending this write-up on a sour note would be misleading. Listen To Your Left Brain is powerful, odd, and intuitive. You might ponder what’s actually being absorbed for once. Well, at least until you put the record on again.