RED STAR BELGRADE

RED STAR BELGRADE

Hier geht's erstmal nicht um Balkan-Fußball, sondern um eine langjährige US-Institution in Sachen Alternative Guitar Rock, die jetzt zum ersten Mal mit einer brandaktuellen Scheibe in Europa aufwartet! 'Secrets & Lies' ist - den früheren englischen Sampler 'End Of The Line' nicht gerechnet - die bereits vierte offizielle CD der "Band" aus Pittsboro, North Carolina, die formal eigentlich gar keine ist, obwohl ihre Musik schon sehr danach klingt.

Es handelt sich nämlich um Mastermind Bill Curry, alleiniger Songschreiber, Leadsänger, Gitarrist, Keyboarder, Bassist, Multiinstrumentalist und seine Ehefrau Graham Harris Curry, die Schlagzeug/Percussion spielt und gelegentlich im Hintergrund singt. Zusammen mit wenigen Gästen zelebrieren sie einen hochkarätigen, eigenständigen Gitarrenrock, der geographisch zwischen North Carolina und Chicago stattfindet, klanglich aber auch in Sacramento oder Tucson angesiedelt sein könnte. Knochentrockene, mit dröge-schneidender Stimme gesungene, zwingend arrangierte, vorwärts treibende Musik, die sich im Fadenkreuz von Independent, Desert, Alt.Country, No Depression und classic Guitar Rock bewegt, aber auch treffsicher die ein oder andere kratzig-verträumte Ballade einstreut. Sicher gar nicht unbescheiden trifft die Bescheibung von Neil Young & Crazy Horse meets Uncle Tupelo hier voll zu. Alte Heroen wie True West, Dream Syndicate, Reivers/Zeitgeist, Green On Red und ganz besonders Eleventh Dream Day drängen sich als weitere rockende Parallelen geradezu auf. Letztere schon allein deswegen, weil ihr Leader Rick Rizzo auf dem Opener 'Drowning' sowie dem folgenden Titeltrack die zweite Leadgitarre spielt. Auf einer späteren Nummer, 'We Tried', darf man gar eines der ganz raren Wiederhören mit Gastgitarrist Ed "fROMOHIO" Crawford (ex-Firehose) begießen! Engineer Tim Harper, der bereits die Regler für Whiskeytown, Backsliders und Alejandro Escovedo bedient hat, hilft mitunter am Bass und an den Tasten. Ebenso hat der stets extrem geschmackssichere Chris Stamey (früher ja mal genialer Partner von Peter Holsapple bei den dB’s) seine Finger mit in dieser Produktion.

'Secrets & Lies' sollte nun nach 'Where The Sun Doesn't Shine (97), 'The Fractured Hymnal' (99) und 'Telescope' (2000) der verdiente Durchbruch für den talentierten Bill Curry werden, dem man eine anspruchsvolle, leicht selbstironische, gar sozialinteressierte Schreibe in seinen Lyrics anmerkt und der seit dem Start von Red Star Belgrade endgültig die Seiten vom kompetenten Rockkritiker (Option, Magnet) zum Vollblutmusiker gewechselt hat... - um im Soccer-Jargon zu bleiben: Denn den Bandnamen hat er tatsächlich (kein Witz!) als Fan des legendären jugoslawischen Fußball-Clubs gewählt!!


Five years ago, Red Star Belgrade's Bill Curry made a decision. Disillusioned with the mid-90's music scene, the Chapel Hill, NC rock critic (Option, CMJ, Reflex) simply stopped writing. No longer able to devote himself to slagging bands that weren't worth the time or effort, Curry traded his poison pen for a guitar, and along with girlfriend/drummer Graham Harris, formed Red Star Belgrade.

Taking its name from the once mighty Yugoslav Red Army soccer team (who had fallen on hard times), the Chapel Hill duo immediately headed into the studio to record their first 7" EP, Lose Your Temper, Gain An Injury. Garnering raves in CMJ, Magnet, and Billboard, Red Star Belgrade were immediate critical darlings. Featuring rock solid songs dripping with anger and cynicism, Lose Your Temper helped Red Star Belgrade forge an identity all their own.

The duo, by that point husband and wife, soon followed up with the Union, SC EP, featuring ex-firehose guitarist edfromOhio on guitar and lap steel. The title cut, a dark ballad devoted to child killer Susan Smith, landed the band features in Magnet, Option, Billboard; and the TV Magazine show, EXTRA. Mixing country, alternative rock, and hard driving pop, the Union, SC EP became the blueprint for the Red Star Belgrade sound.

Two years and one more 7" later, Red Star Belgrade released their first full length CD, Where The Sun Doesn't Shine. Met with immediate approval, Magnet called the CD "a full-scale display of Red Star Belgrade's talents"; while Option lauded the songwriting as "consistently thrilling-- the kind of richly detailed writing you'd equate with a Southern author."

Despite all the critical acclaim, Red Star Belgrade was unable to generate a following in the South and in 1998 pulled up stakes for Chicago. Soon after the move, the band inked a deal with English label Vinyl Junkie/Rykodisc, who released their second cd, End of The Line, throughout Europe. Called one of 1998's best records by BBC DJ Robert Elms, End of The Line, caught the attention of Chicago's Checkered Past Records who signed the band and released the album The Fractured Hymnal.

On the group's latest effort, Secrets and Lies, Red Star Belgrade once explore the dark realities of everyday life. A compelling ride from start to finish, the band's fourth full-length CD incorporates everything from barnstorming guitar rock to alternative country to organ blues and even lush piano songs. Adding to the guitar assault this time around is none other than Eleventh Dream Day guitarist Rick Rizzo who adds sparkling lead work on the both the title cut and the CD's opening track, "Drowning," a tragic tale of murder and paranoid delusions. The title cut, which begins with a droning, Indian-like guitar figure, builds into a maelstrom of epic fury as Rizzo and Curry unleash a mammoth wall of sound. Perhaps the band's finest song to date, "Secrets and Lies" is without doubt its darkest, as the song concludes: "When your heroes turn to villains and your Gods disintegrate / When you look into your lover's eyes and find a trace of hate / When you reëxamine friendships all you find are quid pro quos /When the loneliness won't leave you then you know just how it goes."
Although the CD might begin with murder and seething rage, Secrets and Lies soon yields to the hook-filled guitar rock of "Highs and Lows" and "Insecure Pop Star," which takes aim at shameless rock stars ("I really think Courtney killed Kurt"), concluding with the ironic chant: "Self-respect is a terrible thing." Fans of Red Star Belgrade's twangier side are also sure not to be disappointed by "Twinkle," with its melancholy pedal steel, and "We Tried," a classic country waltz about a disintegating relationship.

For more than eight years, Red Star Belgrade has made some of the darkest and most uncompromising music on the planet. Provocative, insightful, and always tuneful, Secrets and Lies just might be the band's best CD yet.