Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Kelly Slayer” by Cheap Star from the 2013 Rosetta Stone EP on Z & Zoé Records.
Cheap Star may not all be from Seattle, but they have a strong local connection, as their latest EP, Rosetta Stone, was produced and recorded by both Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies, who also contribute bass and additional guitar to the songs. Cheap Star is really the project of France’s Remi Vaissiere, who takes the band name as an obvious nod to Cheap Trick and Big Star, two main musical influences, along with Nada Surf, Guided By Voices and Dinosaur Jr.. With their bright, beach-like, power-pop style, Cheap Star sounds as if they were all West Coast natives, and their songs make us feel like we all should be wearing board shorts, plastic sunglasses and sunscreen on our noses while their songs play.
Today’s featured song, “Kelly Slayer”, is dynamic and rich with moving parts: big guitar solo, rolling drums (thanks to Fountains of Wayne’s Brian Young), mellow and well-mixed acoustic rhythms and Vaissiere’s calming, sweet vocal tones, which can bend effortlessly between dark and fearful to a luminous bounce. Listening to the tune, you might imagine an airplane going by in a clear blue sky trailing a sigh that says, SMILE! For with all that’s going on in the song, the tone and feel of the piece pushes you to enjoy and remove worry. Put it this way, if any of Cheap Star’s members were to ask you, “Ça va?” you would naturally reply, “Oui, ça va bien!”
There are no American tour dates set at this time for Cheap Star, but you can check back with their Facebook page page for more information. In the meantime, check out this lo-fi live video: