Ron Gallo, part-time philosopher and full-time punk-rock musician, has shared an advance stream of his new album Stardust Birthday Party exclusively here at Paste before its wide release this Friday, Oct. 5, through New West.
Stardust Birthday Party is the follow-up to Gallo’s previous full-length, 2017’s HEAVY META, as well as an EP released earlier this year, Really Nice Guys. The new record finds Gallo a changed man—he traded in the anger and frustration of his previous records for a wide-eyed mysticism rooted in self-reflection. The record emerged out of a period of transition for Gallo, a time that culminated in a week-long silent meditation retreat that Gallo says was “the most amazing thing” he’d ever done.
The record is steeped in the weird, wild world of mid-’70s post-punk and new-wave. “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” finds Gallo in full Talking Heads mode, while “Do You Love Your Company?” takes a three-second groove from the chorus of David Bowie’s “John, I’m Only Dancing” and explodes it to the length of a song. There’s beauty between the angular riffs and fuzz-drenched chromatics, though: “’You’ Are the Problem” dips its toes into power-pop, and “Happy Deathday” finds Gallo at his jangle-balladeering best. He name-drops proto-punk, new-wave and post-punk icons in equal measure. “I just love that era of music,” Gallo tells Paste. “It was like: Get weird, be yourself, be unconventional.”
More than any one era of music, Gallo says that he was most inspired by that concept of “self” during the writing of Stardust. “I had a direct experience with being during the silent meditation—which sounds super fucking weird,” Gallo says. “But it was like, ‘Oh, I’m not this incessant crazy voice in my head. I’m a big silent space.’” He sounds like a true bodhisattva at times, espousing the benefits of knowing one’s self, of looking inward before looking outward.
That’s not to say he’s drifted off into new-age hippy-dippy-ness—this is a punk-rock record, after all. Gallo works these ideas about self-discovery and self-deconstruction into his musical language under cover of anxiety, self-doubt and other nebulous concepts that most of us are all too familiar with. “You need to approach people from the same place that they are, which is being a person, you know?” Gallo says. “And being a person is tons of anxiety and aggression.” But that doesn’t mean he’s not trying to change things, one philoso-punk song at a time.
Stream Stardust Birthday Party in full below, exclusively here at Paste, and check out the tracklist and album art further down. While you’re at it, revisit Gallo’s 2017 Paste session.
Stardust Birthday Party Tracklist:
01. Who Are You? (Point To It!)
02. Always Elsewhere
03. Prison Decor
04. Party Tumor
05. Do You Love Your Company?
06. “You” Are The Problem
07. It’s All Gonna Be OK
08. I Wanna Die (Before I Die)
09. Love Supreme (Work Together!)
10. The Password
11. Bridge Crossers
12. Happy Deathday
Stardust Birthday Party Album Art: