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Concurrent with his work in the emo band Karate, in mid-1993 singer/guitarist Geoff Farina formed the Boston-based lo-fi folk-pop duo the Secret Stars with best friend Jodi Buonanno. Imagined more as an ongoing media project than a traditional band, they self-released their eponymous debut cassette in 1994, re-releasing the material on the Shrimper label the following year. Farina spent much of the mid-1990s focusing on Karate, and as a result no new Secret Stars material was forthcoming prior to the 1998 release of the LP Genealogies; a seven-inch, "Abner Louima," appeared later that same year.
Some albums I pick up and listen to, and they make me so damn jealous -- I really wish, sometimes, that I could write songs as heartfelt and beautiful as this. This album's not a "real" album, per se; as far as I can tell, it's more like a collection of B-sides and old, unused tracks, some of which were re-recorded to be used here. The surprise is that none of these are in any sense throwaways -- these are some of the most moving, amazing pop songs I've ever heard. Some, like the brilliant closer "Back In the Car" and the melancholy "The Four Senses", are minimal, just guitars-and-voice (along the lines of the Mountain Goats, actually), but other tracks are a little more on the experimental side, with odd, cool electronic distortions at the end of "N29, It's Alright", and the tape manipulation in "Trance Hall Storm". I'd like to go through the songs one by one and describe them all, but I doubt I could do them justice -- they're all very, very good, and each one's worth a whole page worth of praise.