THE BOSTON GLOBE - 01.07.00
"Local Bands on the Verge"
A new year, a new century, and a new time to check into local clubs to see what's going on. And what's going on is a steady surge of acts ready to break out nationally.
Two of the best, next-in-line bands are playing in town this weekend - Star Ghost Dog and Cheerleadr. Both have paid their dues the last few years. They've had a taste of national attention - mostly through college airplay and CMJ coverage - and are poised to make more noise.
The female-fronted Star Ghost Dog has a dreamily intelligent, alt-pop sound, while the more testosterone-filled Cheerleadr at times echoes the intensity of Kurt Cobain's Nirvana, mixed with more standard hard-rock flavors.
''We're cautiously optimistic about the future,'' says Star Ghost Dog singer Ginny Weaver, whose group headlines the Sky Bar in Somerville tomorrow. ''We have outside jobs right now because Star Ghost Dog is not turning a profit yet, but we hope that will change.''
It should, once the group's second full-length album, ''The Great Indoors,'' is released Feb. 22 on the Boston-based label Catapult Records, which is also home to the increasingly popular Cherry 2000 and Fuzzy. The new album, which follows an EP released last month, furthers Star Ghost Dog's hypnotic infatuation with such influences as My Bloody Valentine, the Breeders, and Throwing Muses - bands that Weaver and co-songwriter Brendan Lynch heard when they attended UMass-Amherst and Hampshire College, respectively.
Weaver and Lynch are both from Kansas, but didn't know each other there. They formed the band in 1995 (other members now include former Jen Trynin drummer Chris Foley and bassist Owen Burkett). Their first album, ''Happylove,'' generated a buzz that continues to grow.
Weaver admits to having been cynical in her lyrics - and that carries over to new song ''Megafauna'' (a commentary on some modern music in which ''passion is an outdated notion/No one feels that emotion''), but she's also become more upbeat in the new ''Exploding Party Favor.'' It's about acknowledging one's dark side but learning to be positive, too.
Musically, Star Ghost Dog is ''definitely into more texture on the new record - and more layering of sound,'' Weaver says. The album was recorded at Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge with producer Master Cylinder (Peter Ducharme), who was in the band New Prime Numbers and is now producing music for Jack Drag's group, Junior Communist Club.
As for the name Star Ghost Dog, it ''doesn't mean anything,'' Weaver says. ''It's just three words that go together.'' The name may lack meaning, but the music is hauntingly evocative. Star Ghost Dog also has two upcoming Cambridge dates: Jan. 18 at the Kendall Cafe (with Orbit) and Feb. 19 at the Middle East Upstairs for the CD release.
- Steve Morse