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June 25, 2024

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Hello Stranger
Hello Stranger (Aeronaut)

By: Scott D. Lewis

Gems like this make horrors such having to listen to the new Everclear album worth the time and agony. The debut from this Los Angeles-based electro-pop trio is simply one of the most engaging and entertaining records I?ve heard all year and one of the most promising introductions I?ve ever encountered. The press will get distracted with asides such as that the album was produced by the legendary Ry Cooder (his son, Joachim Herbert Cooder, plays drums, keyboards and clavinet in the band), that the band sports ornate costumes and stages elaborate photo shoots, or that singer Juliette Monique Commagere is flat-out gorgeous and still likes to carry around a crossbow like she did when the band was named Vagenius. Those tidbits are all well and good, but Hello Stranger?s music is great and, gasp, the band sounds like it?s having a blast making it. The baker?s dozen treats start off with the sonic space ride of ?Take it to the Maxx.? But Commagere?s hazy, come-hither voice grounds the addictive slice of dance-pop and carries it effortlessly along. Dizzying dancefloor energy flows through Hello Stranger, but it?s the kind of aerobic pop that?s got smarts, and each track is tempered with contrasting elements to bring one pleasing surprise after the other. ?My Sharona? gets a nod during ?Here We Go Again,? but then elements as diverse as the Bangles and Brazilian Girls enter into the fun fold. Things get dreamy in Lisa Germano?s fashion a bit down the line and then that?s followed up by a slice of pretty folk-pop that wakes up and worms its way through your ears right down to your feet. Commagere?s clear, angelic voice is front-and-center on the lazy, country-tinged ?We Used to Talk,? but the band picks the pace up again and delivers a zippy, keys-heavy piece of pop that bounces around like a sonic superball. And that?s what?s so great about Hello Stranger, just when you think you?ve nailed their sound down, they pull out another cool trick that leaves you delightfully puzzled and wanting more. Hello Stranger? Hell yeah!

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