Sometimes a band’s press sheet is about as clear as Scott McClellan trying to spin current Bush Administration policies. And in many ways, these words just serve to undermine a group’s attempts to build a fan base. Take The Heavenly States, for example. The group’s publicist describes its sophomore album Black Comet as a “pop record with more hooks n’ sleeved-tricks than 1000 mid-western Replacements rip-off bands combined.”
Perhaps I’ve never understood The Replacements, but I don’t hear the pop. And maybe my definition of ‘hooks’ isn’t universal, but I’m hard pressed to find them anywhere on the record. Of course, all this amounts to is a minor quibble over semantics. The truth is The Heavenly States have the makings of something worthwhile.
More Flogging Molly than Cheap Trick, The Heavenly States mix raw indie sensibilities with a welcome blend of non-traditional rock instruments (check out Genevieve Gagon on the violin and viola). In its current state, the Oakland trio has the makings of “one of your favorite local bands” or “a beloved underground act with a small, loyal fan base.” On the downside, musically it lacks the oomph to transcend these ‘cute’ tags or that special spark that will enable the band to catch much of a fire.
That’s not to say Black Comet has to be the next Revolver to be a worthy listen. In fact, the disc has its share of moments. “Elastic Days” is a standout track with its catchy intro and Ted Nesseth’s jarring narrative vocal delivery. And for sheer jam factor, “Racetrack” earns points for Gen’s frenetic string work, racing like a madwoman with her bow as the song builds into a cacophony of blurred noise.
Stay tuned – The Heavenly States might make something of it yet.