STARLIGHT CLEANING CO.
Starlight Cleaning Co. is a Mojave Desert band fronted by Rachel Dean and Tim Paul Gray. Dean had previously played under her own name, having released an album titled Indian Summer. Produced by Rob Campanella (Brian Jonestown Massacre) and the late, great Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ryan Adams, Circles Around The Sun). She also fronted two bands prior–War Children and The Hot Fudge Sunday (Pappy and Harriet’s Sunday house band). Gray fronted Orange County-based bands The Delusions and Charles Mansion. As a duo, Dean and Gray have toured with Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Bash And Pop, Guns ‘n’ Roses) and on their own throughout the country.
Their paths were interwoven for nearly a decade before formally meeting in May 2015 when they played a show together at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA. Three years ago, the duo did something they had wanted to do for a while: they turned their solo acts into a full band.
Featuring Gray's timeless songwriting and Dean's versatile vocals, Starlight Cleaning Co. is a soulful and beautifully focused operation that somehow sounds like they could have thrived in both the Seventies and Eighties as well as recent decades, drawing inspiration from Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde, Alex Chilton, Dwight Twilley, Sixties girl groups, and even early punk and power-pop.
Recently, the band brought a crew out to the High Desert to hole up for a week and record an album. The songs were tracked at Dean and Gray’s home studio, Starlight Sound, where Vetiver recorded their 2019 record Up On High. Their recording crew comprised the LA/SF blue-eyed-soul and soft rock troubadour Bart Davenport (The Bedazzled, The Loved Ones, The Kinetics) and LA's "indie king" Joel Jerome (Dios, Cherry Glazerr, La Sera). Davenport, acting as producer and Jerome as engineer, worked with the band to create a powerful and sincere record. There are even some special guitar solos from their recently departed friend and mentor, Neal Casal.
Dean and Gray’s voices tower over these tunes with an uncanny chemistry – she sings in a soaring, perfect pitch, belted straight from the heart and performed with a natural fervor that could single handedly bring back the power ballad. Gray is an authentic pop crooner whose timbre balances zeal and verve, trimmed with a touch of twang. Together in harmony, they recall the great male-female duos of the 20th century such as Buckingham-Nicks, Sonny & Cher, Gram and Emmylou, John Doe & Exene.
The end result is an ageless album that swirls cosmic Americana of the High Desert with shimmering and forward-thinking indie songcraft. Starlight Cleaning Co.’s songs are laced with barbed melodic hooks that dig deeper into your heartstrings with repeated listens. From the light-hearted power-pop of “Don’t Take It Away,” a song written from the perspective of their beloved dog, Otis, whose obsession with toys borders on charmingly psychotic to introspective songs such as “The Race” (feat. lead and melodic rhythm guitar by Neal Casal) and “Sooner Than You Learn,” which take a look at love, partnerships, self-medication, self-destruction and the need to simply slow down, Starlight Cleaning Co. is a hopeful examination of the human experience during life-altering times.
“This record is a reflection of our life together as well as the individual paths that lead us here,” Dean says of the forthcoming album. “The struggles, uncertainty, the hopefulness and love. We hope that it resonates with others in their lives and brings us together as we all seem to deal with these common themes. We dedicate this album, in loving memory, to our dear friend Neal Casal.”