- by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2016-08-26 Label: Nevado Music
Gringo Star, one of the better names I’ve heard in a while, is a four-piece hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. Their latest and fourth full-length LP is titled The Sides and In Between, and it continues their retro alternative rock sound, polished like the squeaky clean kids on “Ready, Steady, Go!”
The swampy reverb-rich opener “Rotten,” some kind of Doors and CCR offspring, is also the best song on an album rich with 60’s rock and pop influences. From the Weezer meets The Kinks sing-along of “Get Closer” to the psychedelic-bubble gum pop of “Going Home,” and not forgetting the hippie-doo-wop of “Magic,” this is a joyful end of summer listen.
There are also hints of Between the Buttons Stones (“Heading South”) and The Yardbirds (“It’s You”), while keeping things current with a palpable Tame Impala feel as well. Vocals echo just above the murky chug through muddy waters, creating a dense yet accessible sound, like Velvet Underground funneled through a Monkee’s filter.
It isn’t all incense and peppermint garage rock however; as the band samples Middle East dirge on “Knee Deep” (yet another tip of the hat to the swinging sixties); but for the most part, Gringo Star project a heartfelt love of an era in rock just before innocence was lost. In the wrong hands, music with so many overt influences might just be empty homage, but Gringo Star’s strong and intelligent songwriting, tight musicianship, and brilliant pop sensibilities bring a fully realized musical vision to fruition on this disc. Indeed, The Sides and In Between is a wonderfully paradoxical breath of fresh fifty-year-old air. Get it before the summer is over.