The Dazzling Strangers – The Stars Are Ours (Self-Released)

Chris Streng’s first album under the Dazzling Strangers moniker trades in most of his old band, The Stratford 4’s, shoegaze sound for a simpler approach steeped in ramshackle lo-fi aesthetics. Although a few other musicians assist on some tracks, Streng runs the show, performing most of the album alone, using some combination of guitars, programmed drums and keyboard drones. Despite the modest, occasionally tossed-off sound, the album has many charming moments such as the wistful character portraits “Annie”, “Regina Maris” and “Stella Gonet” or the Spacemen 3/Spectrum-influenced numbers “Sally Backwards” and “Oh Christine”. Streng comes close to shoegazer noise on the Jesus and Mary Chain/Mazzy Star/Cure hybrid “Single Girl On A Sunday Morning”, but regardless of the style of any one song, it’s Streng’s vocal delivery and unassuming songs that make The Stars Are Ours worth seeking out.