From The Published Archives: Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars

Let’s dip into my published archives once again to pull out another piece never before seen on this website.

The day after Monkeybiz.ca presented my Krash Karma review for the first time online, two more of my critiques made their public debuts on the same site.  This assessment of Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars was one of them.  First available on January 5, 2012, with the exception of broken up paragraphs and one small spelling correction, nothing I wrote was substantially changed.  (Always a good thing.)  And like all of my Monkeybiz music critiques, the original posting included the album’s cover.

Check it out.

GRINGO STAR: COUNT YER LUCKY STARS: An album review

Posted on January 05 2012 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl

Is it possible to credibly recreate a particular sound from a certain era many decades after it was fashionable?

And if so, can listeners be fooled into thinking that what they’re listening to isn’t current but a long lost record from that same period?

For the most part, that’s what Gringo Star appear to be up to on their latest effort, Count Yer Lucky Stars, their second full-length release.

A cheeky pun on The Beatles’ drummer, they often sound more like a band from the 60s British Invasion than a modern rock group. How surprising to learn they’re actually from Atlanta.

There’s no shortage of catchy hooks and tight arrangements here in this brisk, vintage-sounding collection. (Just 11 songs in 33 minutes.)

Musically, songs like Mexican Coma and Jessica, with their occasional Dick Dale-as-interpreted-by-Pete-Townshend-style guitar flourishes, and Come Alive, which features an old-fashioned organ, are believable enough to make you forget this is a 2011 release.

Even the lyrics follow the simple love song formulas of the past. A determined suitor hopes to win over a sceptical woman in Jessica (“so many miles between/but they don’t mean a thing/cuz I see things in your eyes/and hear things in your sigh”).

The mesmerized protagonist of Come Alive has much better luck with his paramour (“you make me come around/when I’m feeling down/ooh, you make me come alive”) as he recalls their first meeting (“my eyes gave me a sensation/the moment they fell/fell on you”).

Female timidness is a big turn on in two tracks. The sweetly straightforward Got It opens with this: “I say hi/You don’t have much to say/just a sigh/always makes my day”.

Make You Mine has a similar start: “you caught my eye/you seemed kind of shy”. The difference here is the utter frustration, the sheer torment over the lack of progress plainly laid out in the chorus (“gotta show me a sign/oh I tried to make you mine/oh I tried and I tried/can’t get you off of my mind”).

The deceptively clever Shadow, the album’s opener, twists the formula a bit and comes the closest to representing a modern sound.

With light howling in the background and booming drums giving weight to a typically strong lick, the protagonist draws the line at romancing a werewolf (“you had me for a while/but the moon is full”).

Only one song fails to connect. The despairing, deeply religious mom longing for the return of her runaway son in Esmeralda, a botched attempt at an Eleanor Rigby-style downer. (He never does come back.)

Although the music picks up a bit at the minute mark, the melody tries way too hard to squeeze the non-existent sadness out of you. Ultimately, it’s far too manipulative to take seriously.

While one could easily argue against the simplistic nature of these songs, two pretty acoustic numbers offer more substantial lyrics, when you can make them out.

Light In The Sky is an uncharacteristic political rant as it takes stock of America 10 years after 9/11. “Patriots in fear” and “pockets follow crime” speak for themselves.

It’s too bad that some lines get lost in the mix, though. I wanted to get the full impression.

Beatnik Angel Georgie is seemingly about an overbearing eccentric who sleeps near a garden sculpture of her beloved while entertaining a group of inquisitive reporters. A lyric sheet would’ve easily sorted out the garbled bits.

It’s not original, provocative or even life-changing, but Count Yer Lucky Stars evokes 60s Britpop with skill and affection.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, January 5, 2013
2:26 a.m.

CLARIFICATION:  The “small spelling correction”, upon a second look, really wasn’t necessary.  “Skeptical” in paragraph seven was altered to “sceptical” even though the original spelling was right.  In fact, both versions of that word are correct according to my Gage Canadian Dictionary.  Regardless, I’ve left the change intact to reflect the original Monkeybiz posting.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, January 6, 2013
4:35 p.m.

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Published in: on January 5, 2013 at 2:27 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] That was immediately followed by MonkeyBiz reviews of Krash Karma’s Straight To The Blood, Gringo Star’s Count Yer Lucky Stars and Wilson Semiconductors by The Howling Hex.  Later on, evaluations of Morrissey’s Years […]


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