Archive for the ‘Starlight Mints’ Category


This is the fourth disc from the Starlight Mints.  Their music is hard to describe at any time, but this disc complicates things even further.

The number of genres they cram into this disc is impossible to count.  However, there seems to be a very heavy concentration of a sort of punk/disco feel.  The disco beats (and telltale bass lines) are very strong yet the noisy guitar and instrumentation removes the disco sheen.

And that overall sense sums up the disc fairly well.  It’s got this poppy aspect to it, but there’s a sinister undercurrent.  In my review of their earlier discs, I described them a having a Pixies influence.  And while that’s still true (the sinister part (and the vocals definitely sound like Black Francis)) their sound has evolved away from a grungy rock into a more keyboardy feel.

The opener is a short instrumental that sounds like a cartoony James Bond theme.  The next few tracks have a good 90s alt rock feel (although “Zoomba” mixes it up with some jazzy horns).   But it’s the second half of the disc where the disco sounds really come to the fore.

And, lyrically, the band is all over the place.  It’s always fun to see what’s coming around the corner (as when the rocking “gallop along” comes out of an otherwise mellow dancey track).   Starlight Mints are definitely not trying to sell billions of records, but they are no doubt building a delightful niche fan base. And I’m one of them.

[READ: Week of January 18, 2010] 2666 [pg 1-51]

And so begins the Infinite Summer-like reading of 2666.  I don’t know if this reading group has a catchy title yet (I can’t even think of a jokey one right now), so for now, 2666 it is.

I don’t really know what I’m in for with this book.  And as such, I’m not entirely sure what thee posts are going to turn into.  Unlike with Infinite Jest, which was confusing from the get-go, this novel starts out in a rather straightforward manner.  So, I think for the foreseeable future I’ll do some plot summary and comments.

2666 is divided into 5 books (which were originally supposed to be published independently).  The first book is 161 pages and is called The Part About the Critics.

I had no idea what this book was about.  I’d heard it was a great, difficult read, and that was enough for me.  I like to go into books fairly blindly, so that’s nothing unusual.  The back cover blurb says that it centers around Santa Teresea, which I suspect has something to do with Juarez, Mexico.  So, okay, I get the idea that we’re in for a harrowing tale about murdered women in Mexico.

So, imagine my surprise when the book opens with fifty-plus pages about 4 scholars of a little-known German writer.  And imagine my further surprise when the language of the book is fairly easy to read. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STARLIGHT MINTS-Built on Squares (2003).

The Pixies were a weird band….  They wrote fantastically catchy alterna-rock, and yet, deep down, they were pretty weird, with shouty parts and quiet parts and bizarro lyrics about slicing up eyeballs and monkeys going to heaven.  Well, imagine if their music was REALLY weird, going beyond guitar/bass/drums to incorporate cellos, triangles and samples.  That approximates the Starlight Mints.  I first heard them on a sampler.  Their track “Submarine #3” blew me away.  It was under 2 minutes long and was weird and wonderful.  I can’t recommend that song highly enough.  Their debut album was solidly weird too.

This is the follow up, several years in the making.  And, all the parts are in place. The orchestration is a bit bigger, and yet it is still a somewhat unsettling listen.  Just as you think you get the pace of a song, they’ll throw in an unusual cello riff, or some unexpected sample.  This is not to say that the songs aren’t catchy, you just have to listen carefully for the catchiness.  And, since the songs are all under 3 minutes or so, you have to listen quickly.

I mentioned the Pixies because the second half of the album (and most of their first one) really sounds like a Pixies record.  In fact, there are parts of the songs (surf guitar, sparse solos, and Alan Vest’s voice which at times is an uncanny match for Black Francis’) might make you think you found a long lost Pixies track.  Then, of course, they throw in a trumpet, and you say, nope, not the Pixies.  So, if you like the Pixies, but wish they were just a bit more odd, definitely check out the CDs by these guys.

They released one other album after this one.  I’ve no idea what they’re up to now.  They have a MySpace page, but there’s not much on it except for a couple of songs.

[READ: June 2008] The Tunnel

I bought this book when it came out way back in 1995.  (more…)

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