Or­a­cles speed trio’s mu­si­cal ride

> Star & Micey beat ob­sta­cles with timely aid

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

Like some sort of an­cient Pelo­pon­nesian war­riors, the mem­bers of the Mem­phis art folk trio Star & Micey have an abid­ing faith in or­a­cles, their term for the in­di­vid­u­als who have popped up at key mo­ments in the band’s his­tory to of­fer an in­tro­duc­tion, a bit of in­spi­ra­tion, or just an en­cour­ag­ing word.

It was one such or­a­cle, a home­less man who cornered lead vo­cal­ist Josh Cosby out­side of his apart­ment one night and re­quested a song, who gave the band its name. An­other put lead gui­tarist Nick Red­mond on his path to a ca­reer in mu­sic pro­duc­tion at Mem­phis’ Ar­dent Stu­dios. And a short time later, yet an­other in­tro­duced Cosby and Red­mond at a song­writer’s night in Mid­town.

“This whole ride so far has been like this Leg­end of Zelda RPG (role-play­ing game) or like ‘The Odyssey’,” says Red­mond. “Th­ese peo­ple al­ways seem to come along at just the right mo­ment and give us courage and con­fi­dence to fight through ob­sta­cles.”

Not even the or­a­cles, how­ever, fore­saw the rapid as­cen­dancy of Star & Micey, a rise that reaches a new level Satur­day night when the band plays Neil’s Mu­sic Room to cel­e­brate the release of their epony­mous de­but al­bum on the re­vived Ar­dent

Mu­sic la­bel. The 10-song record goes on sale Tues­day at ar­dent­mu­sic.com, starand­micey.com, and through most ma­jor on­line mu­sic stores. A free three-song sam­pler is cur­rently avail­able at starand­micey. band­camp.com.

Star & Micey ac­tu­ally dates back to 2005 when child­hood friends Cosby and Ge­off Smith first founded the group as the lat­est in a long list of bands they played in to­gether since high school.

“When we first started we didn’t know what we were do­ing,” says Cosby, who jokes that Smith only picked up the bass to im­press his sis­ter, Bon­nie. “We were play­ing heavy, nü metal mu­sic. Then my dad bought me a four-track, and that’s when all of a sud­den I re­al­ized you could put things with things and hear your­self back. For me, on a writer’s level, that changed ev­ery­thing.”

Mean­while, Red­mond was also dis­cov­er­ing the won­ders of record­ing. The Somerville, Tenn., na­tive was an as­pir­ing gym­nast be­fore he stum­bled upon an acous­tic gui­tar in his dad’s closet. Mov­ing to Mem­phis, Red­mond be­came a pro­lific artist spe­cial­iz­ing in art­fully lay­ered cham­ber pop be­fore he abruptly shifted fo­cus to pur­sue a ca­reer in pro­duc­tion.

“I was al­ways one of those kids who took a shine to tak­ing things apart,” says Red­mond of his love for the tech­ni­cal as­pects of record­ing. “That’s re­ally what comes nat­u­ral to me is pro­duc­ing other peo­ple’s records. I thought bands come and go. So in­stead of chas­ing that dream down, I let go of that re­ally early and de­cided a ca­reer in pro­duc­tion was the way to go.”

Red­mond had be­gun work­ing at Mem­phis’ fa­bled Ar­dent Stu­dios and was part of the reg­u­lar ro­ta­tion in a song­writ­ers’ night at Neil’s when he met Cosby, who was mu­si­cally adrift fol­low­ing the hia­tus of Star & Micey.

“At Neil’s there’s usu­ally one weird guy who comes in there on any given night,” says Red­mond. “And this night it was Josh. He had the big glasses that we all had in 4th or 5th grade that come down to your cheek­bones. And he’s wav­ing his arms and breath­ing. And I thought: There’s the weirdo of the night.”

De­spite iffy first im­pres­sions, the pair rec­og­nized a kin­dred spirit in each other’s songs that night and be­gan a col­lab­o­ra­tion that grad­u­ally drew in Smith and re­sulted a year ago in the re­vival of Star & Micey. Al­most im­me­di­ately Red­mond’s Ar­dent con­nec­tions be­gan pay­ing off as the band be­gan record­ing a se­ries of demos that would even­tu­ally be­come the band’s de­but LP. With gi­ant pop hooks, Cosby’s soul­ful, Michael Jack­son style vo­cals, and the band’s pen­chant for Bea­tles-es­que sonic ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, the group crafted a sound that could be likened to an up­date of an­other Ar­dent band, garage soul pi­o­neers Big Star, a sim­i­lar­ity that likely went a long way to­ward that the com­pany’s de­ci­sion to sign Star & Micey to its re­vived pop mu­sic la­bel.

Star & Micey — Ge­off Smith, Josh Cosby and Nick Red­mond — plays Neil’s Mu­sic Room on Satur­day to cel­e­brate the release of their de­but al­bum on the re­vived Ar­dent la­bel.

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