Under Review: Stardeath & White Dwarfs – The Birth

It’s always a bit of a sticky situation when the close relative of a prominent musician starts their own band. The results can be fruitful, like with Jakob Dylan, or, well, not so much (Alexa Ray Joel? Really?). Stardeath & White Dwarfs are indeed a new band, and they are indeed led by a rocker’s relative: Dennis Coyne, nephew of Wayne. Of course, the group’s debut album, The Birth, sounds like a Flaming Lips album. What’s promising is that is sounds like a rather good Flaming Lips album. As the Lips themselves revert back the their hyper-psychedelic roots with the forthcoming Embryonic, Sd&WD hold down the more pop terrain with a batch of spacey but accessible tunes. The bad news first: Dennis needs to take some lyrical lessons from Uncle Wayne. Not that any of the Lips’ songs made any sense, but Wayne has a knack for turning even the strangest phrases into memorable sing-alongs. Luckily, the music on The Birth does a fine job of making up for lyrical shallowness. Sonically, the group plays the kind of psych-pop found on The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Midtempo, Nugget-y moments like “The Age Of The Freak” and the title track give the record good balance against the more manic moments. The falsetto chorus on “New Heat” evokes the harmonies of tuneful psychedelic bands of yore (The Nazz and Strawberry Alarm Clock come to mind), while the instrumental “Those Who Are From The Sun Return To The Sun” nearly recounts Dennis’ first listening of Dark Side Of The Moon with its “On The Run”-like structure. The Birth ends on a rather lame note, with the lightly accompanied “Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want To Kill Myself,” a song in which the all-too-obvious lyrics are barely offset by the background music. Any more comparisons to The Flaming Lips would bog down this review, so it’s best to judge Stardeath & White Dwarfs on their own merits. Yes, they have a great thing going, but, like any child, they still have a lot to learn.

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~ by E. on August 7, 2009.

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