CD Review: "No Star Could Be As Large"

CD: No Star Could Be As Large
ARTIST: Attack Flamingo

We've always had a kind of love-hate relationship with most electronic bands. Some seem to go overboard with the knob tweaking and seem to lose direction, forgetting to write actual rock songs with hooks. We love the sounds and textures of a lot of electronic bands, but the songs, structurally, are no good.

On their debut effort "No Star Could Be As Large," Huntington's Attack Flamingo presents us with the perfect mix of hard driving space rock, heavily textured with synth, with actual drums, killer guitar solos and emotive, powerful vocals, with lyrics that read like they're straight out of an astronaut's diary.

It's basically a concept album about an astronaut's trip into outer space, beyond the moon, sun and stars, and into a meeting with god at the edge of space. Think Bowie's Major Tom meets some Smashing Pumpkins with God Lives Underwater's "Life In The So-Called Space Age" thrown in, and you're not too far off.

The band (Sean Knicely: vocals, guitar; Marty Brown: guitar; Joey Spurgeon: synth; Phil Smith: bass; Sam Hodge: drums) definitely combine for more than the sum of their parts.

Broken into "Earth," "Moon," "Star" and "Hero" themes, the CD is one of the rare occasions where a band's image (CD cover) and sound converge perfectly. That'll stay the way it is as long as Dido and her lawyers don't get their way. That's another story.

Right in time for the lucrative space tourism industry to take off, Attack Flamingo presents us with their own 2008 space odyssey.

The CD opens with the somber, slightly overdriven piano on "Songs of Home," which gives way to synth, as "The summer sun is singing songs of home" and "darkness surrounds" upon leaving Earth. There's more fat synth on "The Earth Grows Small Below" on the way to the moon, as there are "no more skies, hindering my eyes."

"Rocketship" enters "The Star" with hard rockin' guitar and an abandoned ship, leading to the instrumental "Drifting." "Burning" is one of the more rockin' tracks on the CD.

On "A Small Voice" the astronaut finds "The Hero" growing inside, as Knicely sings

"Come with me and we will fly
Come with me and we will never die"
The song has cool acoustic guitar with tribal sounding tom; a laid back sound that rolls right into the last track, "Breathing," the final meeting between the astronaut and the star.

"Breathing" has a really cool kid chorus and, has the astronaut flying away with the star. While the lyrics reflect a spiritual yearning, and the spacesuit is but a thinly veiled metaphor for the flesh, the songs don't come off as something preachy, just deep.

Working with Broadmoor's Russ Fox seems to have helped emphasize the band's spacy sounds; panned synth accent the songs, with cool layered vocals, sometimes with cool effects. Fox, who plays guitar and sings in the atmospheric Huntington-based rock band The Red Velvet, lends his talents well on the CD. Listen to it with headphones for the maximum effect.

And while we here call the band "electronic" they're really a rock band with heavy synth elements. They call themselves "elecrtonica" and that works for us. The songs are mainly guitar-based rock with atmospheric synth. HEAVY atmospheric synth. This is one of the coolest CDs we've came across this year, and has been in the stereo steadily since we got it a while back; hence the delay for this review.

It'll be interesting to see where the band goes from here. They've recently added Barboursville-based DJ SirBoy (Hodge), and they've posted remixed versions of a few tunes on their MySpace profile, so that's promising. They've also just anounced they've signed with Sarasota, Florida-based LBA Records.

And, after going to the end of space and beyond, maybe they'll come back down to Earth on their next effort. Either way, whatever direction they take, for Attack Flamingo, the sky is obviously not the limit.

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