October 13, 2001

The Flaming Stars "Ginmill Perfume: The Story So Far 1995-2000"

I despise blues-rock. Can't stand it. It's too rock to be the blues, too not so very personal at all. To me, it's utterly self-indulgent, wrapped up in ME ME ME and how MY life is all screwed up and WOE IS ME, but it lacks the conviction that would make me believe that they've actually suffered. It's a style that has, over the years, become so generic, so harmless, it's an utter bore, falling victim of placing style over substance. Very rare is the modern blues artist who can actually sound convincing.

Weird, then, that British-based post-punkers have succeeded in being excellent modern adaptors of American Blues. Personally, I blame (in the most respectful way) Nick Cave for paving the road from hell, with bands such as Crime and the City Solution, the Gun Club, Jesus and Mary Chain, and The The. These bands all mixed up a wonderful stew of punk, blues, rock, goth, country and, to a lesser extent, rockabilly, to create a lovely, evil concoction best enjoyed by heartache.

Flaming Stars, proud sons of this tradition, have quietly produced a veritable cottage industry in their role of house band for the bar at the corner of Heaven and Hell. Though they have released numerous albums and singles for the past seven years, Flaming Stars have never released any records here in the United States, aka The Birthplace of the Blues, the Birthplace of Rock and Roll.
Ginmill Perfume: The Story So Far 1995-2000 seeks to introduce American audiences to this unknown source of misery and evil. It's not a greatest hits, nor a singles compilation, so for those of you out there who *have* heard of Flaming Stars and have their records, you'll probably want to peruse the tracklist and pass on this record.

Could darkness seem so intoxicating, so delicious, so...tantalizing?!? Flaming Stars are one of those bands whose obscurity is indeed a crime, as Ginmill Perfume indeed shows. Max Decharne, formerly of drunk rockers Gallon Drunk, knows a thing or two about misery, depression, and evil . As you listen to Ginmill Perfume, you realize that the man's life has been fully enriched and blessed with failure--and that's just the first five years!

As you listen, too, you hear a band progressively getting better, as life seems to get worse. The earliest tracks, such as "Like Trash," "Ten Feet Tall," and "Bury My Heart at Pier 13" all echo with a rockabilly-cum-blues beat reminiscent of the best of Jesus and Mary Chain. As you progress, however, you notice a darker, lusher sound start to develop, not unlike Lambchop meets Nick Cave. More recent songs, such as "The Last Picture Show" and "Some Things You Don't Forget," will definitely make you feel that their earlier recordings, while excellent the first time you heard them, are merely brilliant

Flaming Stars are a band that should not have to suffer with the neglect that often falls on small bands from Europe. Ginmill Perfume: The Story So Far 1995-2000 has fifteen reasons why. The noir racket---tempered with regret and failure, liberally dosed with a driving, often menacing, organ and percussion one-two punch, will provide you with all the mystery your life needs. Ginmill Perfume is the evidence of some sort of evil. Do you want to solve the mystery, or would you rather participate? Flaming Stars would prefer it if you did.

--Joseph Kyle

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