ALBUM REVIEW: Mikelangelo and the Tin Star | The Surf ‘n’ Western Sounds of

written by Chris Familton

Albums like there always run the risk of pastiche or shallow imitation when they attempt to replicate a style so specific and firmly rooted in the past. Many have taken the swamp rock angle (The Cramps, The Gun Club, Scientists, Birthday Party) and made something new and dangerous so Mikelangelo and the Tin Star decided to work some new life into the genre with a guitar sound drenched in spaghetti western reverb and tremolo and surf twang that is always inescapably catchy and fun.

The gothic swamp aspect of the album is accentuated by Mikelangelo’s deep voice that barks out ominous melodies giving the music a sense of cinematic drama. On Le Torro he sounds like a darker Jack Ladder or Henry Wagons and a less demonic Nick Cave – all wrapped in Elvis’s Vegas cape. It is the guitar that takes the central role though, with Fiete Geronimo Geier’s playing showing obvious influence from the likes of Duane Eddy, Link Wray, Dick Dale and even Neil Young on the album closer Midnight Rip. It sounds cool, with a tone that swoons and trembles and it sounds like a classic Morricone or Tarantino film should be playing in the background.

The band are wise to stick to instrumentals most of the time as it allows the guitar to rightfully take centre stage. Floodhouse is about as close to a cover version (that isn’t one) as you’ll get with its stop start structure and the way it showcases many of Geier’s many guitar talents. Midnight Flower sees the seductive tones of Saint Clare added to the mix and against Mikelangelo’s voice they come across as a darker version of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan albeit with a more ominous soundtrack shadowing their duet. There is much to admire and much to be seduced by here. Don’t over-think it, just feel it.

this review was first published in The Drum Media.

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