A few years ago I heard about a band called Minky Starshine & the New Cardinals. You guessed it: I was intrigued by the male lead singer's voice... So, I got the album, enjoyed the music but never really found a good way to approach it. There were after all perhaps too many songs on the album: sixteen in total. Since then Starshine has gone solo.
It took a few more years and a second album to get a hold of Starshine. I slowly began to like the second album Unidentified Hit Record more and more... And I still enjoy it a little bit more each time I hear it. This album has definitely become a classic for me.
What is not to like here? The general production is awesome. There are fantastic drums and guitar, sax, cool piano, harpsichord, even strings, generally very energetic playing. Ken Stringfellow and Mike Musburger play (Ken also sings) on this album which certainly adds some familiar elements to the mix. And of course, Minky's vocals are fantastic.
This is pretty much a love song album. Love shows its bittersweetness and uplifting sides, misery and happiness as the usual counterparts. There are many moments that are just plain beautiful, and other parts are often dominated by a more complicated bittersweetness, that certain feel that isn't all happy or all sad, instead both at the same time.
You could say that Minky likes to use a certain type of hooks a bit too many times on the same album. Now that I have listened to the album probably more than twenty times, I just can't blame Starshine for using such great hooks. Everything comes together like a dream. It is not perfect, but not being perfect is an essential part of making humane music. And even though I don't cherish every song on this album equally much, it is just how the things usually are. If I have to mention a few favorites, I will give you Bitter End, Paper Rain, and of course Brand New.
Yeah, I know I am still one album behind because a third Minky Starshine album (Womanity, 2012) has already been released. I will check it out more carefully when I think it is time. There is also still the first album to explore more deeply.