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Sunset & Void
virus286 (2002) CD - $12.00

New album from UK cult guitar band. Singer Max Decharne was formerly in Gallon Drunk, and wrote the hipster dictionary "Straight From The Fridge, Dad", and is a regular contributor to Mojo and Bizarre. The band have recorded seven sessions for legendary UK DJ John Peel, and have gigged extensively in Europe and Japan. This is also their sixth studio album, recorded in London early 2002.

From the after-dark sophistication of the last studio album A Walk On The Wired Side and after the release of their compilation album Ginmill Perfume - The Story So Far (their first for Alternative Tentacles) THE FLAMING STARS' have returned to the deep-down sleaze 'n' roll which is their trademark. 15 brand new songs for sophisticated garagelanders. Please check them out for they rule!

Their sound combines early punk, Ennio Morricone soundtracks, Slade, outlaw country and Tom Waits. Melody Maker called them "a fistfight between the Voidoids and Jerry Lee Lewis. One magazine calls them "as evil as Nick Cave's Birthday Party or as tragic as the Tindersticks".

" evil as Nick Cave's Birthday Party or as tragic as the Tindersticks..."

„Yes, believers, you can play raucous garage blues, feel the devil-dogs of rockan-RAAHHWWLL nibbling at your parts and still have tunes... Top class NME (UK)

"The Flaming Stars combine searing melodic guitar, trashy drums, and smooth crooning that'll work you over like a good batch of martinis at an after-hours pad; the band can sound as evil as Nick Cave's Birthday Party or as tragic as the Tindersticks (USA)

„In their native England, The Flaming Stars are garage rock royalty with a six-year string of albums, singles and Peel sessions beloved of folks as far away as Japan's Michelle Gun Elephant. The Boston Phoenix (USA)

„Fuses garage punk and spaghetti western twang with a bit of Tom Waits thrown in for good measure - a mix which has gained them a sizeable cult following both at home and in Europe. Music Week (UK)

When it comes to the art of rocking out while dressed in a stylish suit (or even a cheap one), British bands are light-years ahead of Stateside acts. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. In the US, the suit represents everything that rock and roll isn't: rules, regulations and corporations, organized crime, and really, organized anything. As such, it's been the better part of fifty rebellion-charged years since any American band has confidently embraced the suit, symbol of all things orderly and mannered. A few acts have made a name for themselves by dressing up -- yes, Interpol, I'm talking to you -- but it's a costume thing, not a legitimate expression of sartorial style; most of these guys couldn't tell a Hugo Boss from a Perry Ellis. Other than Interpol, who wears suits? Ska bands, usually, and bald, goateed rhythm guitarists who look like they collect kiddy porn. And none of them wear their suits with conviction; it's always "Hey, look, we're wearing suits and playing rock and roll! Isn't that ironic?", and never "Why wouldn't we wear suits?"

On the other side of the Atlantic, you'll find bands like The Flaming Stars, who've embraced their suits as working man's garb -- the requisite uniform for a seamy world of smoky bars, hard living and blue collar gangsters, where kicking a guy's ribs in while wearing shoes that cost three weeks' pay makes a statement, dammit. And while the Flaming Stars' sound draws heavily from American musical lore -- most notably surf rock and Southwestern sounds -- they outclass their influences hands down; the Patron Saint of Suit Rock himself, Bryan Ferry, has evidently blessed them with unearthly elegance.

Sunset & Void combines Nick Cave's gospel-soaked Americana, Tom Waits's rumpled and noisy irascibility, and Elvis's tumescent charisma, shakes it all up, adds two fingers of indie rock a la David Gedge and Jarvis Cocker, and pours the whole mixture over ice. It's the group's fifth studio album, and they have the formula down to a science -- this shit is swank! There are grand, swinging pop tunes like the fifties-styled "Cash 22" (complete with castanet accents), introspective, torchy brooders such as the piano-driven "Mansion House Blues" and "Five for the Road", and even some south-of-the-border spice in "Mexican Roulette" -- and we've barely scratched the surface. "A Little Bit Like You" and "House of the Setting Sun" pack the punch-drunk rhythms and blazing guitars of classic indie barn-burners (think Pixies without the shouting), "Baby Steps" and "Killer in the Rain" pay drive-by homage to noir-friendly Waitsian skronk, and "Killjoy" and "Midnight Train" walk some of alt-country's most desperately dusty streets. And through it all, vocalist/keyboardist Max Décharné delivers the lyrics in a laconic drawl so archetypal that even your mind's eye will wreathe him in cigarette smoke. He nails the variations with ease: an effortless Gedge on the terrific "A Little Bit Like You", a whiskey-smooth Cave on the emotional "Mansion House Blues", even a timeless Cocker via Matt Munro on the bleak, organ-assisted "Sands, Flamingo, Desert Inn".

Guitarists Huck Whitney and Mark Hosking channel everyone from Link Wray to Ennio Morricone in their two-pronged accompaniment, and bassist Paul Dempsey steps out of the shadows when he's needed most -- note the brooding anchor line and abrupt switcheroo refrain in "House of the Setting Sun". It's drummer Joe Whitney, however, who wins the Best Supporting Musician award; he's the muscle behind the album's most powerful tracks, including the aforementioned "A Little Bit Like You", and he pounds his kit like it's the face of the guy who just knocked over his pint.

The band probably didn't wear suits in the studio, of course, but you can hear "suit attitude" all over Sunset & Void -- a rumpled but indomitable savoir faire supported by musicianship as tight as a well-tied four-in-hand. It'll make you want to spend your nights in seedy bars, pursuing doomed romances and filling your lungs with fragrant second-hand smoke. And the best thing of all about Sunset & Void -- especially for those of us living in the birthplace of rock and roll -- is that we don't have to dress up to enjoy it. Some aspects of The Flaming Stars' sound may be as familiar as a well-worn leather jacket, but there's something about Sunset & Void that's as gloriously alien to the American ideology as wearing tweed in the summertime. -- George Zahora



1. "A Little Bit Like You" ()
listen to "A Little Bit Like You"   MP3 (2.1 MB)
2. "Cash 22" ()
listen to "Cash 22"   MP3 (3.4 MB)
3. "Baby Steps" ()
4. "Mansion House Blues" ()
5. "Sands, Flamingo, Desert Inn" ()
6. "Midnight Train" ()
7. "Sunset & Void" ()
8. "House Of The Setting Sun" ()
9. "Killjoy" ()
10. "Mexican Roulette" ()
11. "The Waiting Game" ()
12. "Five For The Road" ()
listen to "Five For The Road"   MP3 (2.8 MB)
13. "Killer in The Rain" ()
14. "The Long Walk Home" ()
listen to "The Long Walk Home"   MP3 (2.8 MB)
15. "Night Must Fall" ()
listen to "Night Must Fall"   MP3 (1.6 MB)

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The Flaming Stars

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