Last night I went on a Magical Mystery Tour deep within the bowels of Spotify. I do this thing I call “band hopping” where I’ll listen to something and then let Spotify recommend something. After I’m done listening to that I let it recommend something to me based on THAT song…pretty soon I’m completely and utterly lost. I wish I could remember what led me to down the weird rabbit-hole of bands named in honor of ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, I bet the trajectory of songs was pretty interesting, but alas…I was in offline mode and my listens were not recorded.
But I digress. The important thing is there are two really awesome rock bands with Ringo-inspired names. The first of these bands that I happened upon was Atlanta-based Gringo Star. What do you think of when you read that name? I bet you think Gringo Star is a Beatles-inspired pop-rock band, right? I know that’s what I was thinking. Turns out Gringo Star is a really cool rock band with some British-invasion influences, but mostly is a bit like the UK’s Supergrass. The band’s latest album COUNT YER LUCKY STARS is a pretty tight collection of rock songs with a lot of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”**
The album opener “Shadow” invokes both the aforementioned Supergrass as well as Oasis, Blur, with just a hint of Dr. Dog (great harmonies). The album is full of great songs, but I really like the spanish-influenced “Esmerelda” and the dreamy album-closer “Mexican Coma.” That last song in particular sounds like it could have been a hit in 1966 by song little-know, post-Beatles invasion-era rock band. I can almost see the vinyl copy of “Mexican Coma” by The Mudd Turtles or some such thing. It’s a really nice summer chill-out song, with a super-cool guitar solo. But the song the changed my lust to love was “Got It,” which sounds like an early Kinks single. It’s got a real nice, super-catchy hook that just digs into your brain and won’t let go. Right now “Got It” is near the top of the list of best songs I’ve heard this summer (woah! It’s only June) .
From Gringo Star I ended up listening to a band called Ringo Deathstarr. As far as jokey names go, Ringo Deathstarr beats Gringo Star hands-down. Besides having the proper number of “R’s” in “Starr” the band’s name is also a freaking STAR WARS pun.
Now Ringo Deathstarr is a COMPLETELY different animal. For one thing, their album COLOUR TRIP is more acid/reverb drenched than Gringo Star’s super-crisp rock. Hailing from Texas, Ringo Deathstarr sounds a bit like The Flaming Lips by way of The Cure. The band is a girl-and-guy “shoegaze” band that I have to reluctantly admit to being a sucker for. COLOUR TRIP opens with the spaced out “Imagine Hearts” which is a joyous bit of pop. The album’s best track is “So High,” which sounds how a whacked-out day at the beach feels. The gentle “Other Things” closes the album with bittersweet introspection. It’s the kind of song that’s easy to get lost inside. Some bands exist in space and other create it, and Ringo Deathstarr definitely create their own space–COLOUR TRIP is best enjoyed alone with headphones.
Both bands (and albums) are pretty awesome, and despite sharing similarities in their name they’re pretty far apart sonically. For me, Gringo Star has the better songs and Ringo Deathstarr has the better vibes. Is that a cop-out? I guess, but it’s really like comparing apples to oranges. Check ’em both out and tell me what you think.
**TANGENT: I think that modern music needs more “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.” Go back and listen to music, from all genres, of the last 50 years and you’ll hear a ton of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.” But with only a few notable exceptions, COUNT YER LUCKY STARS being one of them, I can’t recall very many bands/albums today that use “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.”