The Flaming Stars

Sunset & Void

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Here's a talented and not very well-known band with an impressive fifth studio album that's worth looking out for. Singer/pianist Max Decharne has a cool, Lou Reed-like voice that propels his smooth, hip, spaghetti western-sounding tunes. There's plenty of mood here and noir-like gloom. The instrumentals prove that the Flaming Stars can rock when need be. "Killjoy" has some fine piano bits and on "Baby Steps" the band shows it can really let loose. But the majority of the tunes tend toward the romantic and mildly tragic. And the most obvious influences are the Velvet Underground and Ennio Morricone. The Flaming Stars also throw plenty of instruments into the mix whenever possible, including some maracas, marimba, and harpsichord on the swell "Mexican Roulette." There's no shortage of stuff happening on Sunset & Void, but it's Decharne's voice and piano playing that stand out.

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