Nicholas Furgiuele doesn't even blink when he pulls a CD-R of songs from Gringo Star's 7-inch released this week on Pittsburgh's Solutionist Records. The disc is folded inside a crusty cardboard sleeve cut from a frozen pizza box. Between the hand-scrawled song titles there are splatters of tomato sauce and petrified cheese. One can only imagine the late-night craft session at the kitchen table in which both the pizza and the disc were burned.
It is precisely this sense of DIY-charm-meets-folk-art aesthetic that underscores Gringo's marriage of psychedelic rock and flourishing country music. The new single is the second recording the group has released since cross-fading from A Fir-Ju Well to Gringo Star.
"Arms Stretched Out" is a slow country number penned by vocalist/guitarist Pete DeLorenzo. A fanning accordion laid down by Matt McCalvin wafts over DeLorenzo's rustic croon. The flip side is an upbeat number written by vocalists/guitarists Nick and brother Peter Furgiuele.
The 7-inch bears the mark of Solutionist Records, but the group remains unsigned despite heavy touring across the United States and the U.K. Nick shrugs it off, recalling a chain of bad luck, including an A&R agent in England missing a show because he couldn't find the club, and a vigilante tour bus driver warding off label scouts without first consulting the band.
But this may soon change. After recording the single with Mike Wright at Sister City Studio in Decatur, the group teamed up with producer Ben Allen, who has worked as producer/engineer with high-profile acts such as P. Diddy, Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective and many others.
Thus far Allen has recorded three songs with Gringo Star. But a producer of Allen's stature doesn't come cheap. Without label backing, the possibilities are limited.
"We're sending out demos of stuff we've recorded with Ben," Nick says. "We've had some smaller label interest but nothing too exciting. We don't want someone owning our shit unless the situation is ideal."
Gringo Star plays the Earl Thurs., March 6. $8. 9 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.
To hear new music from Gringo Star, click here.
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