I'm browsing around over at Jeff Parker's website and after catching up on his recent posts and making a comment I found my attention drawn towards an item located on the top menu bar. Sitting there next to his Wiki and RSS links was the word "Periscope" which, at the time, seemed out of place and felt somewhat submarine related. So, like the proverbial cat I clicked through to discover that "Periscope" was, in fact, a link to the blog of Parker's studio whose name had been changed from Mercury a while ago (something I actually knew and somehow forgot) and was neither mysterious nor submarine related.
Browsing around the Periscope site I scrolled down and stumbled across a post from the beginning of October titled "Band adopts Boilerplate as mascot for North American tour". The post discusses how Paul Guinan's Victorian robot, Boilerplate, has been adopted by an indie Toronto band for their upcoming NorthAm tour. Very cool, I think to myself. Boilerplate has always been a visually interesting character and the cover for the EP, titled Sad Robot, looks great with Boilerplate and Lily Campion looking out at the Machinery Hall of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. And, hey, there's the band name in the upper left hand corner; Stars.
What the hell?! I wish there was an emoticon for 'startled-bug-eyed-double-take' because I could probably find a use for it right now. Man, I had no idea that one of my all-time favourite bands had released any new music post-In Our Bedroom After the War, Stars' last full length effort. What rock have I been hiding under? Now we have five brand new songs and an unreleased live track? This is freakin' sweet news.
Investigating it further I note that the EP had actually been released way back in September. Huh? On the first of September, no less, a mere week before my birthday. I ask again, how did I miss this? It pretty much goes without saying that it would have been a real treat to have some new Stars music to celebrate my 3-5.
I actually subscribe to the Arts&Crafts.Inform newsletter but I'm guessing it probably was sent to my other e-mail account, the one direct from my service provider. An account which I haven't had access to since the middle of August, unfortunately, due to a work-related computer switcheroo and haven't bothered checking in on since because I'm pretty much a Gmail user these days. That'll learn me.
Yup, looking through the backlog of old e-mails there are definitely a couple of notices from A&C. Tour dates, contests, information.
Oh well, at least I know about it now.
So, further down the rabbit hole I went, linking through to the Stars official Sad Robot page featuring a nicely designed animated image/blueprint of Boilerplate's various pieces with an embedded audio player in his heart. The player streams clips of all the tracks on a constant loop and, of the six, it's "A Thread Cut With a Carving Knife" and "Undertow" that really stand out for me. A return, I think, to the romantic melodrama that I haven't heard so fully since their first full-length album, Nightsongs, and their sophomore effort, Heart, the album that first got me hooked.
Now, if the music moves you as it has me, I encourage you to click through to the store (as I have) and purchase the EP. It's a decent primer for the uninitiated and, really, the whole thing only sets you back $4 for the digital download. How can you possibly go wrong with this stuff?
There's also some really cool exclusive merch available for fans of either the band or Boilerplate. There are some cool T-Shirts and I love the tour poster, but I was probably most impressed by the chain and pendant they had made featuring Boilerplate in all his glory with a little plaque featuring the Stars logo, circa Bedroom.
Also, if your curiosity has been sufficiently piqued, check out Paul Guinan's site where he has some pictures of the album art, various bits of merch, concert pics and images from the Stars show after party. There's also a blurb at the bottom from Amy Millan explaining how the two ended up collaborating on this project.
For more info on Stars, hit their website (duh).
For more info on Boilerplate, check this link out.
And, lastly, Jeff, you had virtually nothing to do with this but had I not been cruising your blog I don't know how long it would have been before I figured this out. If it was any other band I probably wouldn't have bothered with the post and all the gushing, but it's Stars and I don't respond to their stuff on a very intellectual level.