The Flaming Stars

Named and Shamed

Max Décharné and the Flaming Stars have been crafting their literate brand of garage-rock-meets-lounge-noir since 1994 yet somehow haven't crossed the pond to win the kind of rabid audience they've cultivated in their native England. Sharing the doomed and debauched air of precursors Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and Gallon Drunk (with whom Décharné used to play drums), the Flaming Stars transcend the tag of pasty imitators through the strength of their songs and the ramshackle punk energy they bring to the material on their third Alternative Tentacles release, Named and Shamed. Drummer Joe Whitney's tom-tom-heavy beats propel the snarling feedback-laden exchanges between guitarists Mark Hosking and Huck Whitney on "She's Gone" and "Nine Out of Ten," but it's Décharné's weary baritone and well-placed piano and Vox organ that give the edgier tunes an emotional weight garage rock rarely touches upon. Save for the pretentious misstep of the flamenco-guitar-backed spoken-word title track, the Flaming Stars hit the mark here, whether they're dealing out overdriven fury or spinning smoky tales of broken hearts and shattered pint glasses.

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