Where does one even begin with The Star Crumbles? This band has a time-honored backstory, a tongue-and-cheek spellbinding documentary, and an energetic Twitter following. And I don’t even mean that to be “taken with a grain of salt.” Ever since coming across the band myself, I’ve been “fanboying” out on their work, tweeting fanatically to keep up, and yet I still just this morning had to ask Mr. Marc Schuster, the long-lived King of #TWEEETCORE: “Uh.. dude when does the album drop again on Spotify?” I mean, it’s only in the first 2 sentences of an article I just re-posted here, good lord. Now granted, maybe it’s because I’m an idiot sure, but I am certainly at least a high functioning one. Or maybe it’s because the band operates in sneaky cryptic ways like DROPPING the album early on Bandcamp unannounced, secretly, and randomly as they did last Friday. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s so much of the story to keep up with, that just when you think you know what’s happening over there, you tend to forget what’s happening right here, right now… or maybe it’s Maybelline. Ha! Those of you who actually read my stuff totally saw that one coming.
This is the best place to start: The Star Crumbles’ album, “The Ghost of Dancing Slow” is going to be live on streaming services this Friday, October 7th, and you really should -no you must- pre-save it HERE.
As mentioned earlier, the band self-leaked the album on Bandcamp so if I were to make a recommendation to you, I’d say go on and hit that play button in the embedded Bandcamp player above while reading more about the band. I personally love to do that.
Fitting that not only is the album available for streaming this Friday, but it is also impeccably timed for this month’s Bandcamp Friday which would be an awesome way to support this band if you are a fellow #bandcamper like myself. In following the story as it unfolded, and being hit with the “impulse buy” sensations, I already purchased my copy. Without purposely intending to detour you from holding off until Bandcamp Friday, it is worth mentioning that there is a “secret” track that comes with the album after you support it on Bandcamp, just sayin.
Now with all the meat and potatoes of it out there for consumption, let’s bring you up to speed on The Star Crumbles, in case you are a “noob” like I once was.
Who are The Star Crumbles? The project is comprised of Brian Lambert and Marc Schuster. Other members who may or may not have been in the band in the past was something I was unable to dig up in any of my research. However, as it stands today, the band is made up of those two members currently collaborating long distance between Pennsylvania (Marc in Philadelphia) and Texas (Brian in Denton).
Backstory: From 1982 to 1986 the band played several venues and toured, at one point opening for The Dead Milkmen, and pretty much held the speculative opinion of their peers and supporters alike, that the band had the potential be something more and take the project to another level. Then, due to what their bio refers to as “misfortune, bad timing, and bad business sense” the momentum had seemingly ended abruptly, or at least it appears to be that way in retrospect and by all accounts. The perceived disbanding happened right before “The Ghost of Dancing Slow” was to be officially released through their label. Moreover, there was rumor and further speculation about what happened to the masters, where the masters were, as well as an underlying tension with the label they were signed to at the time. “The Ghost of Dancing Slow” had become a long lost album, living in myth and folklore with those who were around to hear it in real time and those who were close to the band. This is the main premise of the documentary, in addition to some humorous recollections and insights by the slew of talented filmmakers, musicians, and writers they know. Here is the direct link to the blog post by Marc Schuster announcing the official release of the documentary and going into detail about the cast. Oh and might I mention, that they also leaked links to the documentary, leaving breadcrumbs throughout various blog posts in the days leading up to it? At this point you should be feeling bad about calling me names for not remembering release dates.
Aftermath and #TWEETCORE: So, ya know, what do you do in the downtime between fighting with your record label to recover long lost masters? Well, what Brian Lambert did at one point was go on an insane 52 songs in 52 weeks challenge, releasing a new song every week for 52 weeks. That has to be some kind of record, I’ve never heard of anyone else doing such a thing. I learned about that fact via Martin Holley’s “Indie Musicians Talking Music” show on YouTube. An episode in which he was interviewing, wouldn’t you know it, Marc Schuster. And how did I become privy to that you might ask? One hashtag: #TWEETCORE. The answer to the initial question posed, for Marc Schuster, was to define an indie music movement on Twitter. Whoa. Wait, but what is #TWEETCORE? I’m glad you asked…
Back in January of 2022, I had just released an EP (literally on December 31st of 2021) and I met this fella on Twitter whose band is called Scoopski. He was putting together a New Year’s playlist on Spotify. He threw me a bone, put my stuff on the playlist, and the stable of artists on the playlist streamed it for some time, we all discovered some new music, made some new friends/followers/connections and that was that. I thought to myself, “wow, that was a cool thing that just happened, it was like a birthday party for all of our music.” Fast forward to August 22nd. Scoopski shares an article on Twitter written by a guy named Marc Schuster, it’s called “Tweetcore: Notes from a Scene.” I read it and was blown away. Not only because is Marc a phenomenal blogger in general, but the whole New Year’s playlist thing that I thought was such a cool concept turned out to be just a trace element of an even larger virtual movement that was happening. Musicians on Twitter playlisting, collaborating, re-mixing, co-writing, and networking quite elaborately. And here is this Marc Schuster guy at the helm coining the phrase “#TWEETCORE” in reference to it. Ready for the full circle moment? In that article Marc Shuster speaks of one of his “Tweetcore” collaborations in which he added some keys and vocals to a track for one Brian Lambert, that eventually blossomed into a current “full blown project- The Star Crumbles.” So somewhere along the way, #TWEETCORE had also rekindled a project that is now unearthing a long lost album. That is the point in the story in which I was introduced to the Star Crumbles.
The Album: Holy moly, can you believe we’ve made it this far and haven’t even touched on the best part of it all, the music, yet? Listening to “Ghosts of Dancing in the Dark” is a remarkable experience. Is it as advertised? Sure. The band cites influences like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, and I can certainly hear that heavily in their music. I would definitely recommend this band to anyone who enjoys those artists as well, spot on. However, by my ear, I also hear a lot of other influence mixed in there too. What makes it a remarkable listen to me is to think about the backstory and time period in which they were first tried to release this album. It is forward leaning and progressive sounding. The track “Conspiracy” sounds to me like the groundwork of things that eventually led the sound of artists like The Gorillaz. “Cozumel” sounds like something that would eventually be that “hipster” sound encompassed by acts like Death Cab for Cutie.
Marc’s guitar work at times reminds me of post-punk music, in particular the opening opening track “Desperately Wanting,” a gloomy and spacious guitar riff, reminding me of bands like The Damned. Brian Lambert’s vocals are stellar and remind me of some of my favorite all time vocalists such as Jim Morrison and Julian Casablancas. Production wise, I am again a bit taken back at just how good it sounds. I recently did a piece on a project by 2 of the 3 members of Boston’s Native Tongue, a post-punk band of similar influences around the same time period. No slight on Native Tongue (the Boston one, there’s a few acts by that name) whatsoever; who like The Star Crumbles live in a legendary folklore to their respective local scenes at the time, but just in terms of production, listen to them side by side, it is amazingly varied. The album sounds solid.
And the “secret” track? No spoilers here. You’ll have to buy the album on Bandcamp to find out. Or… if we’ve learned anything today by going over the story of The Star Crumbles, I’m quite certain that if you follow the hashtag #TWEETCORE, there are plenty of breadcrumbs and easter eggs left around to find out.
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