Music News

The Heavenly States

There's a right way and a wrong way to add violin to a rock band, and if you put Oakland's Heavenly States to the test, they'd surely pass. For one thing, violinist Genevieve Gagon mixes things up with piano and synthesizer on many of the songs, but the fact that Black Comet, the act's latest effort, was one of last year's catchiest pop-rock albums doesn't hurt, either. Imagine Ted Leo and Starlight Mints jamming together with an angrier, hungrier Stephen Malkmus on vocals, then add horns, flutes and, of course, that violinŠand you're still only halfway there. The real key here is the act's near-psychotic Ted Nesseth, who, in spite of his cryptic, Michael Stipe-ean lyrics, makes the songs rip and roar so much that they'd be golden with only his voice and guitar. Fortunately, though, he's not solo: The States' raw, post-punk guitar romp gets a boost from thumping tom drums and stuttering synthesizers.
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Rob Harvilla
Contact: Rob Harvilla