Go Kill Mice CD - Flapping Jet
When I last checked with The Starlite Desperation, they
had lost a guitar player, added a new one (in addition to bass
player Yasmine Smith), moved from San Francisco to Detroit Rock
City, and released the Hot For Preacher seven-inch.
The record highlighted their two sides, the A-side being more
of a straightforward punk n' roll assault, while the B-side
pushed the more bluesy elements of their attack with a catchy
circular guitar riff. Either way, it was a big jump from the
earlier record, and one sensed that the next record would lean
more towards the A-side or B-side sound. It wasn't as if it
was really necessary for them to really resolve this issue but,
as the new record bears out, they went in the B-side direction.
After forty years of rock action, all anybody is doing is rearranging
and recasting, if not out-and-out lifting, clichés. The
better ones are able to snap the Legos together in a more inventive
and therefore pleasing manner. Throughout Go Kill Mice,
the band is able to recast classic blues-rock riffs in ways
that don't sound cliché or overripe. "The Gold Rush"
is a good example, with a feel that harkens back to the more
mellow songs on the first record, leavening the familiar chord
progression and country blues guitar lick with a clever outro.
"Do You Wanna Be Here" features a Bo Diddley-ish,
Afro-Cuban beat with wood blocks and maracas that dynamically
shift back and forth into a harder rock version played with
tom fills over a caustic Stooge riff, while "What I Want"
casts a catalog of squawking blues riffs over a vocal that goes
from leering to shouting and back. Only "Mona Lisa Snake"
veers too closely to a sound derivative of Funhouse-isms, down
to the Steve McKay toned sax playing of guest Mike Curtin. With
the band pared down to a three-piece - guitar, bass and drums,
respectively - they make the jump into a more hi-fi sound with
Go Kill Mice. At first, it's pretty jarring to hear how clean
the record sounds compared to Show You What A Baby Won't. The
band sounds tighter and more focused, thanks to Dante White's
handling of both rhythm and leads with multiple overdubs, Yasmine
Smith's grounded deep-pocket bass, and Jeff Ehrenberg's flashy
but dead-solid drumming. At certain times Ehrenberg practically
steals the show with clever and energetic swinging beats and
by spiking the rhythm with judicious use of percussion other
than his trap kit. Instead of going for a more sparse sound
with one guitar, White essentially duets with himself; his guitars
weave and dance around each other giving depth to the deceptively
simple songs. The confidence with which they created this record
augured an even better one down the line, but word has it that
The Starlite Desperation broke up after their most recent tour,
which makes this record, in the end, somewhat frustrating to
listen to in terms of what this band promised.
©2004 Skyscraper Magazine.
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