Album review: ‘Gold Man Sucks,’ Black Star Safari rocks

Kurt E. Johnson / Tahoe Onstage

Dan Green and Matt Mandella are Black Star Safari.

Over the past two years, Black Star Safari has grown to be one of Tahoe’s favorite live acts for its deep-set grooves and tenacious rhythms.

Dan Green’s guitar and Matt Mandella’s drums have found a harmonious interplay together that pumps back-and-forth like pistons on a steam engine. Their most recent EP, “All In,’ captures the band’s lockstep energy perfectly and gives a glimpse of a local band on the uptick.

Green and Mandella self-produced the five-song EP and recorded it in their home in the heart of Meyers. The band had worked out the songs live for some time and the vice grip tightness of the compositions speak to the blood and sweat that has been spilt on stage over the past couple years from the pair. The streamlined funk of “Never Again” is a gnarly ear worm that burrows deep in the mind. Mandella pushes the song along with double-time hi-hat work and matching bass thumps to Green’s choppy rhythm. The duo are in perfect union throughout the song it is clear the band is at its best when barreling forward together.

"All In" is the new EP by the South Shore rock and roll duo Black Star Safari.

“All In” is the new EP by the South Shore rock and roll duo Black Star Safari.

Another punishing rhythm comes in the form of “Gold Man Sucks,” which surges with whiplash intensity from Green’s sharp guitar and ferocious singing. “Closing all the big deals/ Say it brings a warm meal/ Shit will never make you feel whole,” Green snarls over a driving beat from Mandella, with which the drummer channels into a succinct drum breakdown that crashes in tandem with every strike from Green’s guitar.

Green and Mandella’s playing is so synced to the rhythm each other have constructed together that is a nice surprise to hear Green step out of their circuit on “Victims of the Groove” to deliver a fierce solo that reels into a crescendoing riff with Mandella. After hearing the solo, you kind of wish Green had added more of those kinds of electric flourishes on other songs. Hopefully it acts as a teaser for more guitar outbursts on future recordings.

Black Star Safari has been putting out quality music for years in Tahoe and “All In” is no exception. For those who have yet to hear this band, let this EP be a great introduction to a band headed in the right direction. For those who have been following this band since the beginning, “All In” is a terrific recording that does justice to what you have been seeing for years.

  • Black Star Safari
    “All In”
    Notable Tracks: “Victims of the Groove,” “Gold Man Sucks”


About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. He moved to Lake Tahoe in summer 2012.

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