By Christopher Nosnibor 

It takes balls to be a woman in the rock world. I’m not talking about the domain of pretty pop or wistful folk. Soul and country may demand a degree of strength from their women, staying strong in the face of adversity and low-down good for nothing cheating men. But rock is where those low-down good for nothing men strut and prowl and get their hard-drinkin’ kicks. For a woman to hold her own in such a man’s man’s world, she’s got to have bigger balls than the dudes.

You can perhaps cite Janice Joplin, PJ Harvey, Lydia Lunch and Courtney Love before she lost the plot as being key women of balls, and Ani DiFranco too. But the point is, the real women of grit are few and far between. Von Hesseling has balls. Star & Dagger are all about the balls. Sean Yasult (White Zombie), Dava She Wolf (Cycle Sluts from Hell) and Von Hesseling have ample proven pedigree individually. Collectively, they’re an unstoppable powerhouse.

Star and DaggerTomorrowland Blues is gritty, grungy and packs punch. It’s hard, heavy, and spits if your face. The guitars back and rage, the bass thunders and there’s a heavy-loined swagger that defines the blues-based rock sound that dominates the album.

The disc and booklet are decorated with an array of cigarettes, pills, cocktails and the occasional broken heart. These are, ultimately, the key elements of rock ‘n’ roll, and summarise the themes of Tomorrowland Blues, which could justly be described as a quintessential rock ‘n’ roll album. It reeks of back alleys and sleaze, is bursting with fuck-ups and bust-ups and bust lips. All been done before, you say? Of course it has. That’s all part of the tradition that is rock ‘n’ roll, and without the heritage a band like Star & Dagger couldn’t exist. What matters is the execution, and this is where having balls becomes imperative. With one ear to the vintage and another to the present, Star & Dagger’s take on rock is simultaneously classic, with a heavy dash of bourbon-soaked blues, and contemporary, with a peppering of jagged old-school metal. And in combination, it’s little short of essential.

Tomorrowland Blues is released by Cauldron 333, distributed by MRI.

Christopher Nosnibor

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