Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
A lot of folks who like garage rock also dig vintage soul and R&B, but putting them together hasn't always worked out so well. For every band like the Detroit Cobras or the BellRays that came close to making the formula work, there have been fistfuls who've failed to find common ground between the two genres. However, some folks in Shreveport, Louisiana have finally cracked the code, and working under the name the Seratones, they've made an album that rocks hard but with plenty of real-deal soul.
Louisiana garage rockers Seratones are fronted by AJ Haynes, who is the kind of charismatic force of nature which seemed to be drying up in direct proportion to the escalating number of hopefuls now traversing the world’s gig circuit. With a voice nurtured since childhood at Brownville Baptist Church in Columbia, Louisiana, she emotes, purrs and glides with the unfettered power of Janis Joplin, gospel-derived soul of Mavis Staples and uninhibited jazz abandon of Amy Winehouse, dynamically complimented by guitarist Connor Davis, bassist Adam Davis and drummer Jesse Gabriel. After arriving on the esteemed Fat Possum with last year’s Necromancer single, Seratones unleash a debut album which frequently dazzles with unfettered soul and garage punk on seductive lightning bolts such as the high-octane Trees, the swinging Chandelier and Howlin’ Wolf-riffing title track, taking juke joint energy to a 1966 San Francisco ballroom on Sun and imagining The Stooges doing rockabilly on Chokin’ On Your Spit.
Even as they played a stripped down version of their song “Kingdom Come” to an almost empty room during a Paste Studio session last year, Seratones were spitting fire. The quartet, based out of Shreveport Louisiana, has been preparing for this, the release of their debut full length Get Gone, with some serious character, a fantastic showing at SXSW 2016, and musicality backed up by a unique brand of southern rock that is textbook “bad as I wanna be,” but doesn’t solely rely on its ability to sound raucous and huge. The drums that kick off the official recorded version of “Kingdom Come” are decidedly jazz influenced, like Art Blakey going hard behind an MC5 cover band.
A.J. Haynes began singing in the Brownsville Baptist Church in Columbia when she was just six years old, and the years of honing her voice paid off as it turns out to be one of the dominating forces on Seratones' debut album, Get Gone. She has a powerful voice that conjures the grit and swagger of a soul singer as the band offers up crunching garage-rock with a Southern sensibility.
In the wake of the death of Prince, the return of Beyonce and the giddy expectation surrounding new Radiohead material, there have been plenty of testaments written about those stellar artists who can revolutionise the music industry and create epic, stadium-filling moments of pop genius. It’s difficult to be snotty and snarky about those mould-breakers and the impact and excitement that they generate. But you know, sometimes the mood just calls for a sweaty barroom, a dirty, raucous blues-rock band and wailing soul mama with lungs like giant bellows.
Seratones would be just another pretty-good-not-great rock band without frontwoman AJ Haynes' powerful voice leading the charge. Their first LP, Get Gone, brandishes playful guitar hooks that swing in at just the right moments, but Haynes is the band’s best asset, lighting these otherwise-conventional songs on fire. In their mix of soulful grease and punky grit, Seratones feel like a natural, rollicking complement to The Alabama Shakes, but it’s not quite fair to call them a ripoff.
Indie-infused garage rock and blues with a psychedelic glint..
Seratones are a spark in a powder keg, constantly blowing up with the energy of sheer rock and snarling punk. Though their sound is inoffensive, the Louisiana group has one promising goal in mind: rock the back of a venue as hard as its impacts the front. Whether their raucous performance resembles the insanity of a Southern bar brawl or whether their slow tunes successfully mimic a ballroom blues ensemble, Seratones show a talent that isn’t show-offish or overcompensating through their debut album, Get Gone.
The month of May certainly didn't overwhelm Carl and I as much as last month did, but it was still chock-full with important releases to whet our appetites until the summer begins. Carl was also significantly more generous - though he's completely enamored by James Blake's winning streak, I ….