PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

The Mighty Stars: The Mighty Stars Are Go!

Brian James

The Mighty Stars

The Mighty Stars Are Go!

Label: Avebury
US Release Date: 2003-12-26
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

When legendary jack-of-all-trades gonzo Kim Fowley calls you "godlike geniuses of dumbass rock 'n' roll" as he did for Bristol's the Mighty Stars, you just might be onto something. After all, this was a man who worked with Frank Zappa and produced the Modern Lovers long before they garnered their hip cachet. Then again, this is also the man who sang about "flying dogs and silver cats and emerald rats and purple clouds", so there's a strong possibility that even when he's flinging about such an impressive-sounding complement, he's just talking out of his ass.

The Fowley statement is more than just a matter of passing interest to the Mighty Stars, however, since much of the buzz surrounding them comes from their association with him. Considering that they're bunched in with the garage rock revival that already seems to be on its last legs, they need something to help them stand out. Had they come along just a couple of years prior, when major labels couldn't sign clones of the White Stripes and the Strokes fast enough, they might've been battling it out with the Datsuns and the Vines for second-tier status even without the former's pitch-perfect name or the latter's elaborate hype ("Our lead singer's totally crazy! Really! We had to hold him back from going completely nuts during the photo shoot for Rolling Stone! Omigod! He rarely bathes! You gotta believe us!"). Alas, no one much cares for the Vines these days, and even their more promising brethren the Hives haven't exactly kept up their visibility since their debut placed them in a temporary holy trinity of the garage revival with the Strokes and the Stripes.

So what might the fate of the Mighty Stars be? In all likelihood, they'll be dragged down with the ship regardless of the merits of their music. There are only so many ways to arrange three chords and a brutal beat in the span of three minutes, and the Mighty Stars, barely on the far side of their teens, stick too closely to their source material to come up with something that transcends the formula. Their EP, The Mighty Stars Are Go!, contains five attempts to rawk like it's 1966 all over again, but the combination of their inexperience and the inherent limitations of their chosen genre work against the band's attempt at distinction. "Small Wonder" and "Go!" hold their own against other Nuggets-derived fare, but "Let's Play" sums up the band's shortcomings so neatly, it threatens to drown out the modest pleasures they serve up elsewhere. The song itself is generic, but that has always been a given in garage rock. Rather, the problem lies with how forced it is, from its naughty schoolboy title to the energy they try to inject into a song structure too weak to reward it. "Let's Play" is like a crystal ball for these lads, showing a future in which they continue flailing away at their instruments on songs called "Make a Mess", "Tear It Up", and "Rock Hard" until the disparity between their real ages and the ages they're pretending to be becomes too vast for even the band itself to stomach.

Still, all is not lost for these lads, even if the tides of fashion are working against them. They are still young, and it's hardly unprecedented for a green band to go from writing a couple of good songs to writing a bunch of them and maybe even a few great ones. But regardless of how much appetite the public still has for this revival, the Mighty Stars would be shrewd to start throwing some musical curveballs instead of just trying to bring the heat every time. Other than the dire vocals, the biggest thing threatening to do in this band is the groan of familiarity from the audience. Anyone who's been listening to music for any length of time has been there and heard that. The Mighty Stars' accomplishments on this EP may not set the world on fire, but they do show a group with talent that belies their youth, and should they ever forsake their attempt to recreate rock's past, they might just earn themselves a nice little spot in its future.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.