Starving Winter Report
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2006, Volume 13, #2
Written by T.J. Simon
Although it calls Detroit home, the Deadstring Brothers makes music that is far removed from the Motor City’s best-known exports: Motown soul and blazing garage rock. Instead, on its debut Starving Winter Report, the group favors a brand of alt-country that frequently recalls The Rolling Stones’ flirtations with the genre on Dead Flowers, Honky Tonk Women, and Wild Horses. It helps the comparisons, of course, that the band’s centerpiece is Mick Jagger sound-alike Kurt Marschke, who also plays guitar and is responsible for the collective’s original material, the best of which is on display in the tracks Talkin’ Born Blues and Toe the Line. Marschke’s work is nicely accented by his extremely talented joint vocalist Marsha Marjieh, particularly on the album-opening Sacred Heart. Nevertheless, the unsung hero and instrumental soul of the Deadstring Brothers is clearly piano/organ maestro Ross Westerbur, who turns the good songs into great ones via his strikingly perfect accompaniments, of which Lights Go Out is his finest. At ten songs in length, Starving Winter Report stuffs the best of the bunch into the disc’s first half, but none of the so-so, B-side songs are ever painful to the ears. In short, while the familiar sound of the Deadstring Brothers doesn’t break new ground, the ensemble is a welcome addition to America’s alt-country landscape. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box