Earlier this month, Memphis indie/power-pop band Good Luck Dark Star unveiled a new vinyl single ("Hologram" b/w "I Told You"), the follow-up to the group's 2009 full-length debut album, You'll Need It. The release marked the recorded debut of the live incarnation of the band, which is fronted by longtime scene veteran Bret Krock (Eighty Katie, The Lights).
"I still feel the first album is a solid collection of songs," Krock says. "But it isn't a representation of the group as it exists today. The [single] is our group as it sounds now."
Good Luck Dark Star began in 2008 as a recording project when Krock's previous band, the Lights, had begun to peter out. The results of those sessions eventually became You'll Need It.
"When the Lights had pretty much ceased existing as a live entity, I started recording an album with my friend, [local producer/engineer] Kerry McDonald," Krock says. "I'm not sure now if it was meant to be a Lights album. We just started recording."
Along the way, Krock started putting together a new live band (which currently features guitarist Johnny Guttery, bassist Logan Hanna, drummer Preston Todd, and vocalist Lisa Krock-Isbell) and thinking about a name change, settling on Good Luck Dark Star, a tribute to director John Carpenter's 1974 student film Dark Star.
His debut effort under the new moniker was well received and attracted the attention of local independent label Shangri-La Projects' founder Sherman Willmott, who quickly signed on to release the band's follow-up.
"The songs were so strong that they needed to be given a proper release and promotion," Willmott says. "It didn't appear that anyone else was going to do so, and I wanted Shangri-la Projects to be a part of such a beautiful record that needed to be heard."
The new single represents a tremendous step forward for the band itself, which is now strong enough to stand up to Krock's soaring pop melodies. The A-side ("Hologram"), in particular, is perhaps the finest stab at Rundgren-ish power-pop this town has seen since the late '70s.
"To me, the growth between the two releases has been exponential," Krock says.
Good Luck Dark Star play the Hi-Tone Café Thursday, December 16th, with the Bombay Alleys. Showtime is 10 p.m. Admission is $5.
Also new in the bins is the debut offering from up-and-coming teenage rockers The Doorknobs. The group is comprised of four high school freshmen and lifelong friends: singer/guitarist Jesse Wilcox, guitarist Kenneth Piper, bassist Bobby Landman, and drummer Nick Riley.
The band formed in 2007, when the members of the quartet were in the 7th grade at Grace-St. Luke's middle school.
"We were already best friends, and then we decided to start a band," Riley says.
After two years of developing their chops and material at various local venues and talent shows, the Doorknobs entered the studio with esteemed local producer/engineer Doug Easley to produce what would become the group's first record, Push Me Down.
"When we first started recording we probably weren't mature enough at the time to realize how lucky we were," Wilcox says. "But we've learned so much from Doug during the recording process that he's now a huge influence."
Now that they are in high school (three of the members attend Christian Brothers, while one goes to Memphis University School), the foursome admits to some difficulty finding enough time for the band amid the demands of schoolwork and extracurricular activities. So, for now, they're content to hone their craft locally and set modest goals.
"We just want to write and perform at gigs as much as possible," Riley says. "We've got a bunch of new songs, and hopefully we'll get to record them somewhere down the line. We'd also like to do a little regional tour just to see what that's like, but I guess we'll have to wait till we all have our driver's licenses."
The Doorknobs play a CD-release show for Push Me Down at Young Avenue Deli Wednesday, December 22nd. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is free, and it's an all-ages show.