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Stardeath and White Dwarfs Channel Classic Rock and the Flaming Lips

September 1st, 2009

Stardeath and White Dwarfs – Mercury Lounge – August 31, 2009

(Photo: Evan French)

(Photo: Evan French)

When talking about Stardeath and White Dwarfs, it’s impossible to not bring up the all-important connection to the Flaming Lips. Stardeath’s lead singer Dennis Coyne is Wayne Coyne’s nephew after all. At 18, Dennis began touring with the Lips as part of their road crew, and you can’t help but imagine that traveling the world with that legendary band, soaking up their unclassifiable sound, watching their particular brand of pop psychedelia come together night after night, would have a huge effect on your musical point of view. So to hear a relationship in the sound is more than inevitable—it’s in the genes.

Coming onstage at Mercury Lounge last night, Stardeath and White Dwarfs wasted no time in winning over the crowd with a blinding cover of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” letting us in on their influences. But the massive classic-rock guitar riffs didn’t end there. They also took pieces from Floyd, Zeppelin and Kiss. Like the Flaming Lips, Stardeath is busy adopting those sounds and combining them with their own spacey psychedelic filter. For a depressing sentiment, the track “Smoking Pot Makes Me Not Want to Kill Myself” rises out of the haze with ringing falsetto harmonies, 12-string acoustic guitar and sweeping synth-bass melodies. To pull off the dense, trippy sound takes impressive effort by every member of the group, who are equally at home tweaking a pitch-wheel solo on the synth, handling a theremin or playing a guitar.

Going from setting up equipment for the Flaming Lips to opening for them on an upcoming UK tour, Stardeath and White Dwarfs are jumping headfirst into the big time, successfully carrying on the family legacy. —Jason Dean