A band is setting its sights pretty high when it lists its primary inspirations as those erudite pop sociologists Ray Davies and Morrissey. But if Chicago's Zerostars don't quite reach that bar yet in terms of witty lyricism--"You ask me how I feel/Well I don't know" the band sings in "Driving to New Orleans," falling a bit short of "David Watts" or "Hairdresser on Fire"--their newly issued debut album "Basement Stories" offers ample evidence that they eventually could get there, especially given the strength of their lilting rhythms and airy melodies.
Formed in 2001, the band made its recorded debut with a six-song EP called "The Good Can't Escape." Guitarist-vocalist Jason Moody, guitarist Mikey Shin and bassist Scott Kallstrand spent two years recording the follow-up as Kill Hannah veteran Garret Hammond filled in on drums, co-engineered and co-produced, and the effort pays off via with the exquisite sound of standout tracks such as the rollicking, horns-laced "Like the Daylights" and the dynamically shifting epic "Family Tree." Both are featured on the band's Web site at http://www.myspace.com/heyzerostars, or you can catch the band live on Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Subterranean, 2011 W North Ave.