NORTHSIDE FEST: STRFKR + YAWN

Led by principal songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Hodges, Starfucker, a Portland, OR-based quartet, has received almost as much attention for its immensely accessible dance hooks than for its not-always-accessible moniker.

As Hodges admits, "I like, and have always liked, the idea of seeing what we could do with a stupid name like Starfucker."

Yet, despite selling out shows from coast to coast behind its critically acclaimed self-titled debut album and follow-up EP Jupiter, the members of Starfucker were constantly being told that their name was holding them back from bigger and better things. And so, at the insistence of those around them, the group invited fans to send in suggestions for a new name before finally settling on Pyramiddd. The change was short-lived.

Explains bassist Shawn Glassford, "That was definitely the low point for the band, but we wised up and took the power back. We're doing things our way again without anyone trying to pull our strings."

Having now firmly settled on Starfucker once again, the focus can now rightly return to what got people talking in the first place: their dancey, endlessly catchy, hook-laden pop.

And there's no better place for that conversation to begin than with "Julius" -- the first single from the band's upcoming full-length (to be released in early 2011 on Polyvinyl).

A darker and more groove oriented track than anything the band has recorded to date, the song was initially recorded in Hodges' bedroom before the band entered the Odditorium (the studio established by The Dandy Warhols) to add flourishes and finishing touches with producer Jacob Portrait (Mint Chicks, The Dandy Warhols).

At this point, it certainly feels like nothing can hold Starfucker back -- least of all its name.

Previously known as Metrovox, the members of Chicago's YAWN have been playing around the city for a few years, but with a new name and a new, self-titled EP, they're poised for a fresh beginning. The five songs on the EP - released this month - find the band falling somewhere between the tribal hooks of Vampire Weekend and the synthy glee of Passion Pit, ultimately ending up with a lush, enchanting breed of indie pop that's well worth a listen. Opening track "Toys" sets the scene with a strong tropical drum beat, playful sound effects and an excellent falsetto chorus. The remaining tracks don't stray too much from this basic formula, but each offers enough nuance to keep things interesting, from the hypnotic, chanting vocals of "David" to the meaty guitar of "Empress." YAWN reportedly recorded this EP in their apartment, which is quite a feat considering the high quality of the material and production. Keep these guys on your radar - it wouldn't be a shock to see them scoring some major attention in the near future.

$20.00 - $24.00

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