Band: Gringo Star
Album: Count Yer Lucky Stars
Release date: October 25, 2011
by Corey H. Jones
The name Gringo Star easily evokes the easy-going, elder Beatle. And while you can’t deny the British Invasion influence on the band’s sound, it turns out the Atlanta quartet simply sought a moniker that incorporated the word “gringo”. (Note the absence of a second “r” in “Star”.) A play on words. And with these guys, the emphasis lies on play.
Gringo Star somewhat dismisses the Fab Four connection, quicker to cite Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, and Sam Cooke as influences. Either way, it explains the vintage quality at the forefront of the band’s sophomore release. On “Count Yer Lucky Stars”, Gringo Star utilizes a minimalist approach to songwriting, complete with plenty of catchy melodies fed through a fuzzy garage-rock filter.
“You Want It” and “Make You Mine” call to mind the sounds of early output from the Beatles and the Kinks. But this album offers more. Opener “Shadow”, a standout track, polishes some of band’s edge, replacing it with a distinct groove.
While the foundation is basic, it’s notable that Gringo Star is composed of four multi-instrumentalists. Catch them live and you’ll see the members rotating instruments after almost every song. It’s no gimmick. Rather, it’s just natural, given the assorted talents of each musician. And this allows the band to craft its own identity and allure. The album’s title track contains hints of Spoon. “Got It”, with a fuller sound that incorporates some doo-wop, shows the band’s range, as does “Esmarelda” —the album’s longest cut, at 4:25, by nearly one minute—which holds a certain whimsicality.
These guys rock just to rock. But there’s value in that. After all, what this album lacks in density, it makes up for with focus. They don’t trip over their own feet trying to employ some lofty purpose. This straightforward approach results in a casual lightheartedness. It’s all in the name, really.