Thursday, August 22, 2019

Album Review: Seratones - Power

***and1/2 out of *****

Back in 2016 I was asked to review the Dandy Warhols at Bowery Ballroom, getting there early was a smart move because the best thing that happened that night was I got turned on to Shreveport Louisiana's Seratones, who kicked major ass with their garage rocking set. Their debut album released the same year was a winner and it even made RtBE's top ten for the year and now comes their follow up and they shifted gears/style/sound in a major way.

No longer a raucous garage rock band with a side of boogie-woogie rhythm, now the outfit deliver a dose of modern soul music with experimental R&B, electro pop and dance rock in the vein of the Alabama Shakes or St. Paul & The Broken Bones. The slick sounds were produced by Brad Schultz from Cage The Elephant as the group goes for mass pop appeal.

The band has also made some lineup changes as AJ Haynes (Vocals, Guitar) Adam Davis (Bass, Backup Vocals) and Jesse Gabriel (Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone, Backup Vocals) remain
but gone is lead guitarist Connor Davis and in his place is Tyran Coker (Keyboard, Piano, Synth, Guitar, Backup Vocals) and Travis Stewart (Guitar, Backup Vocals).

While the players may have shifted this record showcases Haynes coming into her own, from the album art to the videos, to the bands more styled appearance to the soul/disco/dance influences overtaking the sound, Haynes is front and center. Her vocals are dynamic as she sings from the heart about issues she cares about in numbers like the anthemic title track burner all the way through the torch song ballad closing "Crossfire" which just uses a piano and her pipes.

The best effort here is the upbeat dance-floor ready "Gotta Get To Know Ya" which infuses a killer bass line, distortion riffs and spaced out synths, but Haynes is still at the center with her confident swagger. The retro soul is brought to the forefront on the excellent disk opening "Fear" and the expansive "Lie To My Face" which pushes all the correct buttons while "Over Me" takes those elements and injects a modern defiance and killer riff.

These tracks solid but the band is clearly intent on pushing labels and genres. questioning groove vehicle "Who Are You Now" and the dance ready, distortion laced "Heart Attack". "Sad Boi" is straight electro pop thin rock while "Permission" is a slow modern R&B track with minimalist sounds, focusing entirely n Haynes vocals.

When Sleater-Kinney went the full pop rout on The Center Won't Hold, the band had a huge back catalog and decades behind them which made the shift odd, Seratones did the same (even down to the piano ballad finale) on a much smaller scale as they are still a young outfit searching for the right fit. While personal tastes will lead me back to their debut, it is hard to argue with the professionalism, slick sounds and pop appeal of Power
Support the band, buy the record, stream it on bandcamp or below and peep some video:

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