Let’s just accept it. Not one of us is going up to space this summer on some billionaire’s untaxed vanity spaceship. That’s why last month Jimmie’s in the Basement were kind enough to give us their record Star Demon & The Sky Goddess. Put out by the Ottumwa-based label Speak Up Records just over a month after Vol. 1, their expansive 20-song debut, Star Demon & The Sky Goddess continues their honest work of imagining what it might sound like to be able to travel the cosmos at will while standing beneath a shrinking American sky. Too far a reach? This band doesn’t really think so.
We are given little information about this record, except that it was recorded in “a basement somewhere on planet Earth.” And from its liftoff on “Star Demon,” this album burns a different kind of fuel. The only crystal clear objective the group seems to be after is capturing that ever-elusive and fatally pedantic “sonic mood.” (“It’s rock & roll for the basement of your soul” reads the album’s Bandcamp description.)
The tour guide throughout Star Demon & The Sky Goddess relays their messages of love and satellite communication with a breathless, kinda-stoned whisper. Melodic-leaning guitars and cosmic-keyed synths provide the landscape, the fuzzy consistency lending itself to a tonally diverse set of tracks. It’s all in here, from the prog-punk of “My Spaceship,” to the drifty campfire folk of “Moon With No Sun” and “Song For Earth Girl,” to the late-’90s Americana revivalism of “I Know Your Love.” The faux-sitar melody that holds “Land of A Thousand Eyes” together is that good-natured type of gaudy, like keeping that A Christmas Story lamp burning in your living room window all year long. “Midnight Queen” is as sinister as this collection gets, but even it, by the end, pulls itself into a theme from some space western soundtrack.
When the “Sky Goddess” finally arrives, it’s clear that Jimmie’s in the Basement thinks that the music on Mars swirls. A lot. And that the guitars there are capable of deep, bone-shaking distortion. Also, they shred there. The album, at times, reaches for the heights of a cassette tape that has returned after travelling great distances on a spaceship’s dashboard. Do they ever reach it? What are Bezos and Branson really looking for up there? Can there really be love in space? You can just forget about asking your Alexa.
With Star Demon & The Sky Goddess, Jimmie’s in the Basement is pretty damn sure that when the sky is already falling, it’s best to just roll the tape. You’ll be glad they did.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 297.