Monday, November 14, 2011

Gringo Star - State Department -- Black Cat - Nov 13 2011

State Department - It has been a while since I last saw this local four-piece (Seems I have written that more than a few times lately). Without looking at what I wrote, I recall that I liked them, while sensing that it was early in their career and there was room to improve. And as often the case, the improvement seemed to be on schedule tonight. They featured a solid full-time vocalist and the normal power trio behind him. The early songs mixed grinding early garage punk with some funkier songs. It was all gutsy heartfelt rock music at the core with a gorgeous droning roar (or roaring drone) carrying "The Devil is in the Details" to great heights. Perhaps not unlike the Banshees led by Nick Cave? The guitarist and bassist traded instruments and within a few notes my memory came back in full. Oh yeah, this is the part where they switch to a classic post-punk sound merging Gang of Four and Public Image moves and sounds. It is quite good, although it does disconnect things a bit. If I were a major label A&R guy, I may have a problem with this approach. But since I am a variety seeking music fan, I enjoy them bringing me lots of good songs in different styles. This band is welcome on any bill I attend and they had some nice crowd support tonight from the 40-50 attendees.

Gringo Star - From Atlanta comes this four piece with two guitars, bass and drums and the occasional switch to keyboards with all kinds of instrument trading throughout. The keys here are the vocals. A couple of guys trade lead duties and all three up front harmonize well. The sound is nice early pop garage with plenty of gutsy psyche-rock underneath. The first song is striking with its pop harmonies and the look on stage is pure Beatles with Paul and George leaning into the same mic while John sings lead off to the side. The hooks are plentiful and there is plenty of good garage rock underneath to keep things just heavy enough without losing the pop. This approach reminds me a bit of the an old Montana band called the Frantics which have a really cool obscure album out there. Nice lighting from the stage adds to the classic psychedelic feel. The last song also reminded me of the Groupies' "Primitive" (see Nuggets compilation... see and listen to full compilation often). It is really hard to do a poor job at this sort of music. The real question is whether you do it really well and offer a unique take on things. I hear the quality here more than the unique. But in days where vocals are often an after thought, these guys are on the high end of the quality side. Their tour is almost over and hopefully there were a lot of people like me who will now remember a very nice band with a name that is really easy to remember.

From the 'Not exactly my intended audience' department... I frequently look through the search phrases that lead people to my blog and find some interesting and amusing results. I will try to write them down for future reference. However, there was an old show that attracted some very odd searches every now and then. It was a show I reviewed here at the Black Cat that featured, No Age, Holy Fuck, and Trophy Wife. I'll let your imagination be your guide to the keyword searches that lead certain internet explorers to my review.

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