Atlanta band captures spirit of live act on debut LP
The phrase "all y'all," like the opposite of the royal "we," suggests an inclusive universality in a distinctly Southern manner. In the same way, Gringo Star (the recent reformulation of longtime local favorites A Fir-Ju Well) manages something much greater than the sum of its parts on All Y'all, its full-length debut, which builds upon the reputation of its explosive live performances and boasts nothing but promise.
Produced by Ben H. Allen of Atlanta's Constellations (who's also helmed for Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective), the album is a tapestry of jangly guitar and multi-part vocal harmonies, and ranges from psychedelia to garage rock to surf pop. A bit off-kilter and more than a little charming, it's Atlanta pop at its best and communicates as well as any recording could what it's like to see the band live. Bright spots include "Come On Now,” which comes across like a sock hop in the midst of a gospel revue, and “Don't Go,” featuring saloon piano and an insistent tambourine. Mid-tempo rockers like "Transmission" and "Eve of Your Expression" are listenable but unremarkable without the band's instrument- and vocal-switching live energy. But no song better represents the band than the title track (and first single): It's anthemic, hook-filled and catchy as hell. All y'all best go listen.