Opening with ‘Rotten’, a track which sounds like it’s been stolen from the back of Roy Orbison’s car and played with Hank B Marvin’s guitar, Gringo Star’s album ‘The Sides And In Between’ leaves you in no doubt as to what to expect: good ol’ 60s tinged rock and roll and a whole damn lot of fun to boot.
The ten track album continues with the theme on track two, ‘Magic’, a deliberately muffled vocal endearing the song to the listener’s ears; fun and foot-tappingly good, this time channeling the spirit of Buddy Holly.
The Atlanta band found their calling in chats between brothers Peter and Nick Furgiuele and their grandfather about his days playing R&B on the radio in the 40s and 50s. It was the time of segregation, and so this was a bold move, taking the music to a white audience.
Track 3, ‘Get Closer’, brings us back to a more contemporary feel, sounding now like Wheatus, which for this listener is not a bad thing at all. Simple love song lyrics over fast paced guitar make this a song that must sound amazing live – it certainly sounds great as an album track.
‘Still Alive’ will have you bouncing in your seat, its skiffle vibe and tinkly piano suggesting it would be perfect on the soundtrack of any film about the early 60s, while ‘Going Home’, the halfway point of the album, is folky and laidback, with the whistles and seagulls putting its influence as having been somewhere between The Kinks and The Beach Boys.
Gringo Star (their very name a nice pun of course on Mr Peace And Love himself, Ringo) have certainly forged a new road for themselves with this, their fourth full length LP. The quartet from Atlanta are tight and as different to anything else on the present music market as can be. Sixth track, ‘Knee Deep’, again verges into movie soundtrack territory, conjuring up images of The Deep South and troubling times in the 60s. It’s probably the most Atlanta-sounding song on the album, if that is such a thing.
‘Heading South’, with what sounds like mandolin in addition to guitar, drums, and other percussion instruments, is a fab tune with very pleasing harmonies and layered melodies. It’s a theme revisited in the next two tracks, ‘Undone’ and ‘It’s You’, the first having plinky piano, whistling, and what sounds like a wolf’s howl, and the second is underpinned by percussion, mandolin, and a maudlin “ohhhhh” vocal.
Final track, ‘The Last Trace’, takes us full circle, we’re back to Buddy, Roy, and Hank, with more than a nod to Wheatus yet again. All in all, ‘The Sides And In Between’ does exactly that – and then some. We are taken to the sides and in between, but also to the bottom and the top.
‘The Sides and In Between’, from Gringo Star, is out today on Nevado Music, and is available as an audio CD from Amazon, as well as streaming on Amazon Prime Music. It’s also available on iTunes. You can buy the CD from Nevado’s merch shop, as well as various bundles. See here for further information.
Find Gringo Star online on their official website, where you can also get details about their tour, which starts tonight at Toronto’s Velvet Underground. They’re also on Facebook, Bandcamp, and Twitter.