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CD REVIEW: Flame Shark - Midnight on Pearl Beach
By Chip Withrow - 02/17/2007 - 03:03 PM EST

Artist: Band: Flame Shark
Album: Midnight on Pearl Beach
CD Review: Two different people told me the title cut to this disc sounds like the Rolling Stones. And it does a bit – like one of the bluesier songs on Exile on Main Street, except with more jangle.

Then I realized why I dig this CD so very, very much: you can’t classify Flame Shark at all, but every song on Midnight at Pearl Beach is cool. You can’t call the Grateful Dead a rock and roll band, you can’t pin down Neil Young as a folkie, and whatever label you give Flame Shark won’t do this band justice.

A tasty guitar/organ intro leads you into to the first song, the driving “Deny Deny Deny.” The song ends too soon, but it's a taste of what’s to come. Later songs stretch out considerably - toward the end of the disc, a couple tunes are symphonic in a reverb-drenched Crazy Horse sort of way.

Nice psychedelic-folk flourishes give songs like “A Fossil” and “The Chimes at Noon” a spring-afternoon-in-college-party sort of feel (man, I’m nostalgic now). “Fossil” features guitarist Justin Jahnke and keyboardist Rusty Lee in some sweet solo bursts.

“Chimes” is dreamy and loping. “Kill Me With Your Sunshine” is in the same vein, but edgier. I like the way the guys harmonize – a bit more ragged than the Beach Boys, but inspired. And “Sunshine” has a wild sax solo from guest Jon Vollmar.

As a write this, my five-year-old daughter is spinning and squealing to the pulsing “Anxious to Arrive.” I’m tempted to join her … there, I’m back. “Anxious” ends with a Byrdsy raga jam. “This Place Is On Fire” is more countrified but, like "Anxious," rocks anthemically.

After the aforementioned title cut comes the equally Stonesy “The Sky I Knew Before.” “Catfish” Simmons on pedal steel gives “Sky” a melancholy feel, reminding me of one of my favorite Stones songs of all time, “Torn and Frayed.” Simmons’ pedal steel also graces the weirdly sing-along “Like a Pack of Dogs.”

Every song on here is a keeper – in fact, if I wanted to write about every one of these 13 cuts (oh, wait, there's a swaying, pretty bonus track), this would be one of my longer reviews. But I just spent the last two weeks teaching creative writing students economy of words, so I’ll close by saying Midnight on Pearl Beach is adventurous, groovy and one of the best discs I’ve heard since I started writing these reviews.

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