Now that the scoffing in Atlanta over Gringo Star, A Fir-Ju Well's new moniker, has subsided, the group's self-released, self-titled EP presents the band in peak form. From the psychedelic kerrang of opening number "No Reason," Gringo's new-and-improved rock cadence is much like its old one. "The only thing that's changed is we don't have to repeat ourselves when someone asks about our name," says frontman Nicholas Furgiuele.
Taking turns behind drums, bass, guitar and keyboards, Nicholas, alongside his younger brother Peter Furgiuele, Matt McCalvin and Peter DeLorenzo, imbues the group's former persona with a higher level of professionalism. A primitive version of "No Reason's" Spanish/Southern grooves appears on AFJW's 2004 release, Absolutely. Its placement here as Gringo Star's official introduction is symbolic of the changes at hand.
Nicholas adds that with e-mail and word of mouth, the name change hasn't been a hindrance, but the benefits remain to be seen. "We've had a couple label offers in the last few months," he adds. "We're just waiting for the right thing to show itself."
This is the same band it's always been, infused with a stronger work ethic, which is underscored by the reworked version of "Transmission" from AFJW's '02 self-titled debut. Here "Transmission" clicks with slow melodies and a lonely voice in which spiritual yearning rings with passion. It's not out of place among the group's catalog and it wouldn't be out of place on alternative radio. In this transformation, spontaneity is missing, but songs such as "Coming For You" and "Esmerelda" are among the group's strongest offerings. Gringo Star hasn't changed what it does, only refined what was already there to reach a higher level on its own merits.
Gringo Star performs w/ Phonograph and Morning State. $7. 9 p.m. Wed., April 11. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.