If you look up the YouTube channel for Gringo Star, you’ll find the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon” in the band’s favorites list right in there with the cowboy crooner music of Bill Monroe and Slim Whitman. It’s a tidy way to sum up the group. The Georgia foursome takes old cowboy riffs and marries them with ’60s Brit rock swagger a la the Kinks, the Beatles and the Who. The Gringos are nothing if not consistent, assembling Count Yer Lucky Stars, the band’s second album, much like their first. What’s good is still there—the vocal harmonies, the hand claps, galloping rock drums and tambourines and the Brit riffs of ’60s greats.
We’re off to a good start with “Shadow,” as the track begins with some playful strumming and steps up to a jam band chorus and back into a comfortable verse. It’s well balanced, marrying Brit and southern rock without going far off the rails. A track like “Light In The Sky” uses both the rawhide cowboy riff and the la la las of a ’60s pop hit to great effect. “Beatnik Angel Georgie” reaches back to a time when pop lyrics were awash with psychedelic nonsense wordplay, recalling some of the best Beatles whimsy.
There’s a lot to enjoy in the Gringos’ second effort, but mostly if your musical tastes never got past 1969. There’s no question that the core fundamentals are strong—everything from the songwriting to the Gringos musical chops are dead on. It’d be really something though to see the band chart some new territory rather than retread the familiar, if well loved, decade that’s 50 years gone. There’s been some criticism of Gringo Star’s name, a pun of cover band corniness a la the Fab Faux. Overcoming that is the band’s consummate challenge, sounding fresh enough while still paying tribute to the birth of rock. In this effort, Gringo Star largely succeeds.