Category Archives: Reviews

Jim DeRogatis Reviews “…And Star Power”, calls it “A black hole of wretched excess”

And here’s the most abrasive review of “…And Star Power” so far, courtesy of WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis (who gives it .5 stars):

As both a devoted fan—heck, a scholar—of psychedelic-rock experimentation and a defender of the merits of Foxygen’s 2013 breakthrough pop-pastiche We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace And Magiceven after the group proved to be far from stellar onstage—the third album from California studio wizards Jonathan Rado, Sam France, and collaborators comes as a major disappointment.

In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so eager to hear the next release by a band that turned out to suck this royally.

A bloated, sloppy, sprawling, 82-minute, way-too-impressed-with-itself 24-track double album, … And Star Power veers far from the beautiful, orchestrated psychedelic pop of the last album, overshooting psychedelic noise to arrive at psychedelic mess. Sorry, kids, but there is such a thing as taking too many drugs; what the Romantics called “the systematic derangement of the senses” in pursuit of spiritual and musical transcendence is one thing, but getting so deranged that you can no longer tell the difference between otherworldly studio experimentation and the aural equivalent of burping, farting, and laughing at your own clever self for doing so is another matter.

Read the full review here.

American Songwriter review of “…And Star Power”

American Songwriter has released their review of “…And Star Power.” It’s fairly negative, giving 2.5 out of 5 stars while criticizing their disorganization:

This sprawling double platter that runs just a little over what could comfortably fit on a single CD is undeniably creatively liberating. There are four suites that seem to be divided as if they were created for the four sides of a two album package. If a further concept is at work, perhaps of changing stations on an imaginary radio from space indicated in the liner notes, it’s not explored enough to be anything other than a murky theory.  What’s clear is that Foxygen takes pieces of a variety of music they love such as ’70s era Todd Rundgren pop, Pink Floydian space folk, Velvet’s artsy garage, John Lennon styled introspection and a load of indie singer-songwriter attitude. They then cut and paste those together often with the primitive style of razor blades and recording tape.

It’s an occasionally inspired, more often maddeningly muddled mass of half-baked ideas and self-indulgent noise. There’s a feeling that a good producer and/or a lot more self-discipline could have corralled these ideas into something special. Guest appearances from the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes add to but don’t enhance the experience.

[…]

There’s a decent single CD lurking here … somewhere. Those with the time and initiative can probably find and piece it together. As it stands though, Foxygen bit off more than they can chew, leaving … And Star Power as an occasionally interesting failed experiment. It’s one that shows a band with a surfeit of ideas – many of them worth exploring – who needs to harness their creativity and impulses.

Read the full review here.

The Revue’s First Impressions of “…And Star Power”

Several writers at The Revue have put together their (largely positive) first impressions of Foxygen’s new album:

Wendy Redden

[…]

The genius for me of We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic was producing just enough quality songs (9 to be exact) to have me intrigued and wanting more. Now with And Star Power, I feel like Foxygen creatively dumped 24 tracks because they couldn’t narrow it down to a proper album length. Sometimes, less is more. Towards the end of the album I was thinking the last 4-5 songs could have been left off entirely and then “Everyone Needs Love” and “Hang” reel me back in.

[…]

Michael Jacobe

[…]

First impression is Rado and France were sparse with the title but over-indulgent on album length. Twenty + songs and over 80 minutes of play time is a lot to digest. Tracks like “How Can You Really” indicate that this duo is not a fluke and can still craft hooky classic rock inspired jams. Once again they pull out all the stops. There are organs a plenty on songs like “Cosmic Vibrations”, there are slow tempo tunes like “I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate”, and Lennon inspired jams like “Flowers” that make this album somewhat irresistible. There is also lots of filler including five songs playing on the lead track “Star Power” and some noisy tracks like “Cold Winter/Freedom” that could have been cut or cleaned up. I still give it a thumbs up, as it is fine follow-up album with plenty to enjoy, although a little editing would have gone a long way.

Ben Yung

[…]

But as a whole, my first impression of the new album was one of confusion, making me scratch my head at what Rado and France were trying to achieve. The “Star Power” series of four songs, for instance, has its moments, but as a whole lack cohesiveness among themselves and with the rest of the album.

So would I give this a thumbs up, thumbs down, or somewhere in the middle? To answer that question, I asked myself, “Would I listen to this album again?” My answer: yes, but is it to better understand that Rado and France are trying to achieve or is it because, despite its imperfections, I truly enjoy the album for its intricacies and varied parts? I give it a thumbs up, but not quite at 90 degrees, maybe closer to 75.

Read the full article here.

The State Press Reviews …And Star Power

The State Press, which covers Arizona State University (And also recently interviewed Rado), has released their review of “…And Star Power”:

 Soon after the release of its 2013 LP, “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic,” Foxygen became one of my favorite bands. After a retrospective listen to 2012’s “Take the Kids off Broadway,” I decided few modern bands were more impressive. Rejuvenating the sounds of The Rolling Stones, The Doors and The Velvet Underground, Foxygen brought something both new and old to the table of psychedelic music, flower power with a modern twist.

With “…And Star Power,” the band seems to be moving out of the 1960s San Francisco music scene, and into ‘70s easy listening and punk. Naming influences like Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood Mac and The Stooges, Foxygen prepared fans for an eccentric concept double album on which the band, Foxygen, is overpowered by an alter ego, Star Power.

[…]

I would recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of music. “…And Star Power’s” 82-minute runtime makes it the band’s most enjoyable album.

Read the full review here.

All Things Loud Review of “…And Star Power”

All Things Loud has written a largely positive track-by-track review of the upcoming “…And Star Power”, giving it a 7/10:

Overall, …And Star Power is a record which has firmly solidified Foxygen’s status as one of the most interesting American bands of today. Yes, it could be shorter in places, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a well thought out record with a lot of tiny little details, and every song ends up having its own identity on the album. It could make do with a few omissions and certainly is not a hit record, but there has definitely been a lot of thought into the concept it set out to deliver. Each chapter has its own standout track (How Can You Really, 666, Freedom II and Everybody Needs Love, respectively), which is accompanied by a whole host of other exciting tracks. …And Star Power is best listened to in a full sitting, because only then do you ‘understand’ the album and its concept. Some songs are perfectly fine by themselves, but this record is meant to be listened to as a whole. This record may not become a commercial mega hit, but it will likely become memorable in its own right.

Read the full review here.

Fox and Hound Music Review Of “…And Star Power”

Fox And Hound Music reviews “…And Star Power,” giving it 3.5/5 stars for great music but a bit too much experimentation:

Star Power is something of a double-album for double-albums sake, as if they band is proclaiming, “We’ve been fairly busy since the last release—here’s everything we came up with.” Indulgence is key to this record, as France and Rado expand their diversification in musical styles and instrument usage even further, while providing an album that definitely has some fat that wasn’t cut off the meat.

[…]

Despite any excessive experimentation, the music is overall fantastic. The complex structures and explosive choruses of the first half of the album make …And Star Power one of Foxygen’s finest productions. This record represents a challenge, and overcoming it was extremely satisfying.

Read the full review here.

In Your Speakers Review Of “…And Star Power”

In Your Speakers reviewed “…And Star Power,” giving it a 70/100:

Foxygen is firmly entrenched in a tug of war between 1970’s era soft rock and crunchy psychedelic. Put them together and you have soothing white noise rock mixed with wild bits of uninhibited experimentation. At every turn, you never know whether you will find yourself in the midst of slumber or a manic episode. These guys enjoy keeping the listener guessing.

[…]

…And Star Power is a breed all of its own. Across two dozen songs, Foxygen goes in many different directions, but at their core it’s all about making entertaining and challenging musical concepts. There are so many different blends and variations at play that the risk of being played out is minimal at best. Never boring or complacent, Foxygen proves they will never settle to be pegged. – See more at:

Read the full review here.

The Umbrella’s Guide to “…And Star Power”

KLC’s The Umbrella published a guide to Foxygen’s new album, setting the scene and then diving into a few representative tracks:

The pair’s range of influences is evident just by who they’ve featured on the new album; the Flaming Lips, of Montreal, White Fence and Bleached all make the cut onto the 24 song double album. The two hooligans are set loose to indulge in a seemingly mod-podged 82 minutes of music. What’s changed since last year’s breakthrough We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic? For one, Rado and France have put together a 9-piece touring punk band called Star Power. They also seem to have deactivated any and all inhibitions they may have previously held on to. That’s not to say …And Star Power is a hot mess of arbitrarily strewn together tracks. Full of tape recorded side notes, fuzzed out nuttiness, buoyant pop ditties and tragic love songs, the album is a treat to listen to. There’s continuity in Foxygen’s affection for all things 70’s, their manic humor, and seriously rad guitar riffs. They’re also more thoughtful than they appear on the album, with familiar refrains threaded throughout the album. France described the piece as the most cathartic and emotional work they’ve put out.

[…]

Star Power III: What Are We Good For
Arguably more important than “Star Power I” (but with less fun imagery), round three of Star Power amps up the energy and finds some positivity in a chorus of the existential question “what are we good for” ?!?!? While they don’t answer this question, there is some fun stuff happening in this track again with Rado’s keys and a blast of horns that’ll really give you some star power. The album takes on some more buoyant cosmic vibes after this.

Read the full review, including walkthroughs of several more tracks, here.

Live For Live Music Review of “…And Star Power”

Live For Live Music released their review of Foxygen’s new album, providing a blow-by-blow recap of “…And Star Power”:

Star Power I acts as the set up for the rest of the Star Power chapter of the album as it reaches its peak during “Star Power III: What Are We Good For”. The blend of horns and running bass-line as Star Power III progresses gives it the nod of being the catchiest track on the album. All stories must come to end, and Star Power IV does that as it lulls you into “I Don’t Have Anything/The Gate” which could realistically be the end of the album, but why end on a mild note?

The destination still hasn’t been reached as we are guided on a rollercoaster by progressive psychedelic rock sounds of old with highlights in “Wally’s Farm” and “Hot Summer.” Foxygen provides a plethora of upbeat sound until the album is halted by the low-fi, dark space-rock boom of “Cold Winter/Freedom”. Where is this album going now? The answer is the simplest on the album, everywhere and nowhere as there is no coherent train of musical thought seen as elements of experimental rock, psychedelic folk, and classic 70’s hard rock battle through tracks such as “The Game” and “Talk”.

Read the full review here.

The Slant Review of “…And Star Power”

The Slant reviewed Foxygen’s new album, appreciating the “throw-it-at-the-wall experimentation” and giving it 4/5 stars:

Arranged as a 24-track double album with four individually titled LP sides, …And Star Power emulates not only the musical styles, but also the loopy concepts of so many classic bands. It’s not entirely clear if “Star Power” is supposed to be a radio station a la The Who Sell Out or the name of Foxygen’s alter ego; the concept isn’t so much half-assed as a deliberately loose framework that gives the band de facto permission to do whatever the hell they want. Only a few songs stick with a single idea for very long, such as the “Star Power Suite” on the second side, which vacillates on a dime from propulsive glam rock to a chummy stoner sing-along to emotive Neil Young-esque piano balladry. Or “Cosmic Vibrations,” which starts out sounding like demented ’60s cult favorite Skip Spence attempting to cover “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” before it breaks into a sunny, uplifting coda.

The result of this restlessness, added to periodic cacophonous interjections and the defiantly lo-fi, almost mono-sounding recording quality, means …And Star Power features a seemingly endless store of hooks, but relatively few songs that adhere to the traditional three-minute single formula—with a few glorious exceptions, like the piano bouncer “How Can You Really,” the dreamy “Hang,” the punchy garage rocker “666,” and even the near-instrumental “Hot Summer,” with its infectious beach-party organ licks. It’s a dense and rewarding listen, whose myriad melodic qualities take a bit of digging and patience to fully appreciate.

Read the full review here.