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coverpic flag US - Texas - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 21 - 07/09/98

Marfa Lights
(Independent cd)

Comparisons, they say, are invidious, especially when they involve musicians and their previous bands, but that doesn't necessarily prevent them from being made. Marfa Lights take their name from strange lights seen over the Texas skies. Sound familiar? Well, the Foo Fighters (the alien craft that is) have a similar background. And in fact while the Foos boast the slightly less famous member of a 80's band trying a new venture, this tenuous comparison holds water for the purposes of this review, since Seattlite Steve Mack was the unknown-at-the-time American who joined the O'Neill brothers when they split the Undertones to form That Petrol Emotion. However, Mack's vocals trademarked the band as much as the guitar onslaught. So it's unsurprising that this new band will be rated as Steve Macks new band.

His tenure with Derry's second-most-famous sons has given his songwriting, somewhat under-utilized with TPE, a very British feel. Not in a bad way I hasten to add, though the tracks on Tensor have a guitar-driven hard pop feel that you wouldn't find in Seattle, even in the grunge days. The songs are basically decent tunes, lively, more the tunesmithery of the Manics and the life of Gold Blade than say the predictability of what we once called Britpop. Standout tracks here are Slider which kicks off the album, Checking Out, and Infatuated, which could surely be a hit single, but others like Lemon Rind, Liftoff and Goner will sink into your subconscious as their more involved rhythms work their magic after a couple more listens. Silver Spoon will doubtlessly have the jury out as the only slower song on the album, possibly acting as a mid-set break from moshing for the hordes. Steve's voice still soars here, and throughout the album, in that way which will be familiar to fans of the Petrols, and while they wouldn't want direct comparisons to the band which started out more than 10 years ago, certainly have the same spirit as their predecessors, while bringing things up to date with some new ideas.

Copyright © 1998 Stuart McHugh e-mail address

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