When Derek Christopher of Wandering Stars announced that he would be releasing a new single – and that fans might hate it – I was immediately intrigued. Even outside of his work with Wandering Stars (The Joy Thieves, Columbus alternative artist Kali Dreamer, and powerhouse singer-songwriter-musician Cherimondis), Christopher is constantly pursuing and pushing the boundaries of his artistry. While he mainly toils in the realm of heavy industrial music, the latest release from Wandering Stars, “Robinson Ave.,” sees him drifting toward bluegrass-adjacent. But is it still a pure Wandering Stars release?Robinson Ave. by Wandering Stars
Honestly, I believe that “Robinson Ave.” would fit right in with the late 2021 release Memory. As Christopher also posted about “Robinson Ave.,” the track sees him stepping into the personal singer-songwriter role in a sonic terrain of industrial bluegrass electronica. The song starts off with a twangy, twinkling guitar fading in, until about 30 seconds pass and we hear Derek get on his rocker. The anecdotes he’s introducing are so poignant and detailed. From sneaking sips of Canadian whiskey to a buddy going 125 miles per hour in his Cutlass 442 after school, Christopher does a tremendous job of transporting his audience to this Robinson Avenue. (The characters of these anecdotes – some family members – are also callbacks to names we hear on Memory.)
Much like Memory, “Robinson Ave.” features Christopher in a similar singer-songwriter role. With the bluegrass angle, the bleeps, boops, and clangs aren’t as synthy or rigid, but the single could truly fit into the sonic and lyrical archetypes of Memory. The textures also share a very similar calming and soothing nature, both building and breaking down into robotic snares at times. Between the storytelling and on-point syncopation of Christopher’s voice, there is a lot to throw into the middle of the Venn diagram here. And, quite frankly, it’s a damn catchy tune.
There are a few builds in this song. The first comes at about 90 seconds in, when Christopher croons a couple of times, “Life goes on.” At about the three-minute mark, the plucky synth wave bridge with an accompanying banjo solo builds quite beautifully into the final act of the song. Although “Robinson Ave.” doesn’t deconstruct, fall apart, and build back up like the heavier Wandering Stars material, it still does deconstruct, fall apart, and build back up. It’s a song about coming together, and it portrays this so gorgeously in so many different ways. Christopher laments this sentiment as well early on in the song, singing, “I swear our people came together on Robinson Avenue.”
It has heart and soul and industrial qualities, therefore it’s a pure Wandering Stars song.