Normally, any band with a freaking asterisk in its name deserves to be insulted based on principle alone (perhaps the asterisk leads to a footnote that says “our name blows”), but we’ll hold off the tongue-lashing for NYC rockers Stellastarr*, who return to the scene after a few years out of the spotlight with a new record, “Civilized,” which attempts to capture the inventive, melodic New Wave charm that made them so appealing earlier in the decade. Stellastarr*’s 2003 self-titled record was beloved by critics (who especially latched onto frontman Shawn Christensen for sounding like the lovechild of Ric Ocasek and David Byrne), but the album never took off, lost under the shadow of fellow New York post-punk revivalists Interpol. Years later, the conditions don’t seem too ripe for Stellastarr* to conquer the mountain of indie acts or achieve any mainstream success, but the band should sleep well knowing “Civilized” is playful and tight, as the interplay between Christensen’s staccato ramblings and bassist Amanda Tannen’s light countermelodies are just as effective as ever. The band’s effortless tangents into Bloc Party-esque arena rock do make me a tad regretful—they could be selling out Wembley, if it weren’t for that blasted asterisk. (Andy Seifert)
July 23 at Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, (773)489-3160, at 9pm. $15.