Gringo Star, Count Yer Lucky Stars
After making my way a handful of times through Gringo Star’s latest hazy, earthy, rambling full-length, Count Yer Lucky Stars, I was struck by the way in which the band grabs hold of both rough-edged ’60s pop and psychedelia and more modern indie-rock elements and fuses the two together near-seamlessly to create a sound that’s part of both worlds but truly belongs in neither.
That’s a good thing, by the way, because what the Gringo Star guys — Peter Furgiuele, Nicholas Furgiuele, Pete DeLorenzo, and Chris Kaufmann — come up with is jaw-dropping and original, hitting everything from doo-wop to surf-rock to sharp-edged alternarock to sweetly bucolic pop while remaining beholden to none of those genres. The Atlanta foursome definitely pay homage to their heroes, to be sure, but they’re fully committed to inventing something new in the process, proving that yes, it is still possible to make your mark in a musical realm all too full of retreads and wannabes.
They take a confident, defiant step out with opener “Shadow,” which is bumping and quirky and ’60s-ish in the verses and explodes into a bombastic, Blur-like chorus with chucka-chucka guitars and “oooh-oooh” backing vocals; the heavy, inexorable, yet still wobbly beat makes me think of Gorillaz, believe it or not, if that band did some kind of a collaboration with Weezer. The band then swerves into seriously Pixies-like territory for “You Want It,” with its menacingly bassy guitar line and half-snarled vocals, before gallop-stepping through the rumbling, murky “Got It,” which makes me think weirdly of an Amy Winehouse song as interpreted by The Animals.
“Beatnik Angel Georgie” is a little woozier, slurred and power-pop-y in the best way possible, while “Count Yer Lucky Stars” is speeding, Dutchess & The Duke-esque retro-rock. “Come Alive” runs a similar track but gets both rougher and more anthemic in the chorus, making me think of the New Pornographers more than anything else. “Esmarelda” is a bit of a switch-up, all slow-moving and Latin-tinged and elegaic, but things amp back up for the sweet, swooning, ’50s-ish “Jessica.”
Then there’s the countryish travelin’ song “Light In The Sky,” and high point “Make You Mine,” with its awesomely Buzzcocks-y guitar line; the track comes off like a heavier, harder-drinking Teenage Fanclub, tough-yet-tender kids who aren’t afraid to go after one another in the street with knives. “Mexican Coma” closes things out somberly, seemingly talking about addiction while wielding a yearningly beautiful descending guitar line and a fistful of windswept surf riffs.
In each track, Gringo Star lure you in with a sly smile, then proceed to jam the hook deep into your jaw so you’re stuck but good, and odds are pretty good you’ll catch yourself mumbling bits of various choruses later on in the course of your day, wondering, “okay, where the hell did that come from?” while your brain freaks out ecstatically all over again.
Beyond that, there’s a wild, infectious, rambunctious energy like Supergrass in their earliest days when they were still just a shaggy-haired band of kids playing music because they loved it and didn’t know what the hell else to do. Gringo Star aren’t content to sit back and play things note-perfect and crystalline, but instead leave the tears in the fabric of the song just like they are, so you can see that orange-colored light come filtering through. Look and listen close, friends; you won’t be sorry.