When there's a ton of reverb involved in a guitar-pop garage band's studio session, there's a thin line between making the music sound elegantly brilliant and making it sound like amp noise in a garbage can. Atlanta's Gringo Star walks that line with confidence, cranking great guitar tones with heavy doses of reverb and echo. They specialize in a jangly, dreamy cacophony — a British Invasion-inspired, mod-tinged take on classic power pop, delivered with a Southern accent and indie-rock swagger.
To lead singer and guitarist Nick Furgiuele, the band's music is simply pure pop, regardless of the British and psych leanings.
"We're just going for a straight-up bunch of pop songs," says Furgiuele. "We're trying to write hits. The band has always gotten so many different descriptions. It's a bunch of different things. I don't know if that's hindered our progress on getting the word out. We're not easily pigeonholed. We do get the garage-rock thing a lot, but I don't feel like it sounds like that so much."
Furgiuele and his brother, lead guitarist Pete Furgiuele, have been chipping and polishing melodic and quirky pop gems for ages. They've collaborated with good friend Pete Delorenzo for nearly 10 years straight. All three swapped instruments and songwriting duties in the eclectic Atlanta combo A Fir-Ju Well before forming the more straightforward Gringo Star in the mid 2000s.
All Y'all caught the ear of the indie underground elite in '09. Positive reaction and rave reviews led to several lengthy tours across North America, plus a trek across Europe opening for ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead (filmmaker Justin Malone documented the tour with his recently released film Hurry Up and Wait).
"In Europe and the U.K., the audiences all thought we were Americana," Furgiuele chuckles. "We did a whole string of Americana-themed nights in London, and people loved it. We never got any criticism for trying to sound British or anything. We did catch an Aerosmith comparison, though ... I didn't understand that one."
With the addition of skillful multi-instrumentalist Chris Kaufmann, Gringo Star signed to Brooklyn-based Gigantic Music earlier this year. The occasion marked the beginning of a vibrant new era for the band. They teamed up with Grammy Award-winning producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Gnarls Barkley) this year to make their sophomore album, Count Yer Lucky Stars.
Souped up with amp oscillation, washy cymbals, tambourines, hand claps, and multi-part harmonies, Count Yer Lucky Stars is a heady storm of bouncy, garage-bred power pop. The band's signature reverb rings consistently from track to track — from the clangy stomp of lead-off song "Shadow" to the Kinks-esque rave-ups of the title track and the syncopated Latin-beat party-rock of "Got It."
Furgiuele feels that it's his band's finest group effort so far.
"When it comes to songwriting and recording, everyone in the band is cool about collaborating, making suggestions, and pitching ideas," he says. "We're all about the team."