|Star & Dagger - 'Tomorrowland Blues' (Cauldron 333)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Monday, 12 August 2013 03:00|
When it was announced that the video for 'Your Mama Was A Grifter', the first real glimpse of Star & Dagger material, was to be a homage to Russ Meyer's cult classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (with a touch of the original Batman television series thrown in for good measure), I'd guess that I wasn't the only one to think that former White Zombie bass player Sean Yseult was on another Famous Monsters (her kooky 'n' kitsch project that originally featured NY Loose frontwoman Brijitte West) kick, a collision of B-movie beauty and surf music sexiness.
The four track EP that (barely) contained 'Your Mama Was A Grifter' (and acted as a suitable teaser to the long-promised album) though, and a lauded UK tour earlier this year, painted a different picture, one where the desert featured in that must-see video was transferred to tape and had the word 'rock' tagged onto the end of it.
Yeah, Star & Dagger, although featuring the classic horror-fuelled Yseult and former Cycle Sluts From Hell guitarist Dava She Wolf, have little to do with the trash and sleaze that no doubt make up for a thousand shared memories for the pair, instead pulling away from the gutter and pulling up at a seedy, smoky strip joint of a classier nature, one where the girls take no shit from the men lusting over them and just do what they do...and do it well.
That term 'lusted over', as it happens, could have been invented for Von Hesseling, the seductress gifted the right to front Star & Dagger: where she came from I do not know, she may well have been created in a castle's secret laboratory (one found in sex-smeared Euro horror flicks, obviously) using the finest body parts known to womankind and fitted with a voice fit for a temptress, seducing every member of the more basic sex that crosses her path. If every band needs a secret weapon then Star & Dagger have theirs in this bewitching blonde.
'...Grifter' doesn't even lead the aural assault on the senses that is 'Tomorrowland Blues', the band's long player that seemed to take an age to appear yet has already taken on something of a timeless quality. Instead, the song closes the ten track affair, forcing your hand towards the repeat button to loop this surprisingly heavy record once again.
Actually, you shouldn't really be surprised at the heaviness of the album and band in general when you consider the names that these girls coerced into helping them with the making of 'Tomorrowland Blues'. Dave Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) who, alongside fellow QOTSA man Gene Trautmann completed the line-up of the Star & Dagger live band that toured the UK, co-produced the album at his Rancha de la Luna studio, with Yseult's former White Zombie bandmate J. Yuenger mastering the tracks at Graveyard Studio in New Orleans.
The heaviness of the record isn't of the breakneck variety however, it's more a wall of vintage velvet closing in on you, imposing and fuzzy and stinking of another decade or two; death by seduction, stuck in a web as a trio of black widows come a-creepy crawling. "So you killed a few men in your time," read the lyrics to 'Before It's A Crime', a sentence that pretty much sums up the album's aesthetic.
Opening cut 'In My Blood' may well be one of the stand-out tracks on the record but, with its rocked-out opening and verses, it's not until chorus time that it becomes wholly representative of 'Tomorrowland Blues', the hook subtle, simple and slowburning. The riff that opens 'End Of Days' is the nearest that Star & Dagger ever get to Yseult's former million-selling outfit, the tune, as with its song sisters wrapped around it, quickly settling into a dark, dusky, desire-smeared workout that, given the band's desert rock sound, is akin to Lust In The Dust, but with proper women.
'Freak Train', like the album's title track that precedes it, is effortlessly cool, the guitar work almost as infectious as the hook, while 'Selling My Things' slows things down to a sludge-like crawl, Von Hesseling's voice searing through the gloom, the backing vocals also.
'Sidewinding' launches with the kind of bass run that so enamoured Beavis and Butt-head a couple of decades ago, before 'Your Money' struts out of the speakers like it owns the place - trust me, don't argue the case.
If you like your music blues-infused, black-hearted, and sexier than a busload of beautiful women en route to strip club summer camp then 'Tomorrowland Blues' might just be your favourite album for some time.