14 September 2009 (gig)
16 September 2009
Stardeath and White Dwarfs hail from Oklahoma City, and if you've heard of them already it's probably due to their collaboration with 'The Flaming Lips' on their cover of Madonna's 'Borderline'. That's not the only link they have with The Lips, lead singer Dennis Coyne is the nephew of The Lips' front man Wayne Coyne, and subsequently they've supported them a few times on tour. In addition to this, Dennis and two other members of the band used to be road crew on his uncles band......OK,got that out of the way........
Before hearing their music you could be forgiven for thinking that Dennis and the lads were just riding on his uncles' coat tails, however , having already listened to debut album, 'The Birth' I knew I should expect to be impressed tonight.
The band come onstage in front of a disappointingly small crowd here at the Islington Bar Academy and unexpectedly kick straight into a cover of Black Sabbath's 'Sweet Leaf', giving it their own spacey twist,and they pull it off with great effect. Next up is 'New Heat' which starts off with the chorus' falsetto A cappella harmony of " I think I lost myself and I don't know where we are, It's hard to take control when you know you've gone too far...",before kicking straight in with some pretty hard guitars.The song, probably their most uptempo follows on nicely from the opener.
By the third song, the sweet, lazy, acoustic driven 'Keep Score' it's already very apparent that this young band has made the most of their connections and experience. The band is tight, the sound is superb, and the harmonies spot on. A lot of bands take 2 or 3 albums before they reach this level of performance.
Bar a couple of changes, the band almost play their album in order tonight. Yes, the Lips' influence can be heard, there are unsurprisingly some musical similarities, and Dennis' voice does sometimes sound a lot like Wayne's.(which let's face it is a good thing). However these guys are very much a force of their own and produce a range of styles from the Prog Rock journey which is 'The Birth', through the funky bass and drum only of ' Those who are from the Sun return to the Sun', to the quirky synth tinged pop of 'I can't get Away', and the gorgeous melancholy of 'Age of the Freak'. The latter being my favorite track of theirs, with the song slipping between a forlorn sounding Dennis on Acoustic guitar and full blasts of atmospheric noise.
The guys finish off proceedings tonight with their wonderful, drawn out, yet almost unrecognisable version of 'Borderline', which builds up from a slow plonking keyboard and whispered vocals into a triumphant wall of sound.
Tonight this sadly sparse audience witnessed a superb performance from a band who have talent beyond their years. Despite the fact of the aforementioned connections with a certain band, these guys stand on their own two feet magnificently. Next time I expect to see them in a much larger, much fuller venue!