eputation is a hard thing to live up to. So, when you walk around talking about how your band is the greatest band in the world, those are some pretty big shoes to fill. Especially if you don't even have a band.
Enter Robin Black.
A couple years back he told reporters and music big-wigs about his band, the Intergalactic Rock Stars. He talked about how they were the best band in the world and that they would single handedly save the Canadian music scene.
Of course, he didn't even have a band at the time and had just disbanded from his former crew, the Ballroom Zombies.
A five-piece ensemble was formed from wreckage, with Robin on lead vocals, and they performed live gigs in Toronto for a couple years before even recording any material.
When they finally did some recording, they released a single called 'The Star-Shaped Single' and the new full-length album, 'Planet Fame.'
The biggest question hanging over the band's head upon release of the album was whether or not they were the "best band in the world" and would "save Canadian music."
The album is, pure and simply, magical. It takes you away to a different time and a different place. When you hear the songs, or at least when I heard the songs, images popped into my head. Pictures of David Bowie, garbed up in his best Ziggy Stardust outfit, prancing around the stage, and Iggy Pop, wearing nothing but leather pants and rolling around in broken beer bottles on stage. I can see the Sex Pistols performing and giving the crowd the finger, provoking them into anger and I can see the Pixies, with Frank Black screaming into the microphone while Joey Santiago wails out some never-before played screeching guitar riffs.
And that's just after a first listen.
Most wondered if Black's ego could live up to the reputation he'd built around this fictional band. Truth is, he does. The band can actually play. They all work their instruments wonderfully through the songs. But my favourite musical working on the album is the background harmonizing. The back-up singers' 'O-oos' and 'La-la-las' really sound good behind Black's sometimes screechy voice. The harmonizing vocals do for this album what they did for Weezer on the Green Album. They just make everything sound so much better.
This album is both a kick ass rock album and it's also a sign of the times. It's a sign of, hopefully, things to come. I hope, after hearing this music, that this band does something important with the popularity they will no doubtedly receive from this record.
Not only does this band bring out the best in themselves, but also a growing trend in music. Recent bands like White Stripes and The Strokes are conjuring up old sounds and making them cool again. Granted, Robin Black's sound is glam rock to the full nines, but in the case of the other two bands, they're just bringing back the sounds.
Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rock Stars are truly otherworldly. On first appearance, they look like the rejects from a Marilyn Manson cover band - but after you stare at them a little while, and realize all they really want to do is rock out, kick some ass, and embark on some other classic forms of rock and roll debauchery along the way, you are willing to let them do so.
Planet Fame blasts out 11 tracks and 2 hidden gems. Stand out songs like Candy Flip, Suburban Sci-Fi and the hidden song, Better Than You, really solidify this band's presence in Canadian music.
Track Listing (* are hidden tracks):