Seratones' Debut Album a Soul-Powered Romp

Seratones' Debut Album a Soul-Powered Romp
Courtesy Photo | Get Gone by Seratones released May 6 on Fat Possum Records.

Courtesy Photo |
Get Gone by Seratones released May 6 on Fat Possum Records.

Attention all punk rock fans, soul music fans and psychedelic music junkies. Open your ears to a super cool new sound that’s coming from the hands of a new Shreveport, La., band.

The Seratones are A.J. Haynes (vocals, guitar), Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass) and Jesse Gabriel (drums). They’re only about a month out from their debut record, Get Gone that released on Fat Possum Records (which is one of the coolest indie labels in the South) May 6. The band first came to my attention after coming through Little Rock at the White Water Tavern and bringing the house down.

While the band may just be a foursome, the group’s got a lot of good stuff going on. Somehow, the band has created a stellar mixing of jazzy soul and psychedelia with the raw attack of a punk rock band. However, this is definitely a rock n’ roll band.

Upon first listening, Haynes and her Ella-Fitzgerald-meets-Etta-James vocal style are the takeaway right from the get go. Her voice can be smooth, she can be gritty and powerful and she can sound outlandish. There’s a fluttering thing she often does with her voice that’s both eerie and goofy. Yet, there isn’t a song on Get Gone that sounds like she’s out of place.

Like many singers from the South, Haynes was brought up in church where she was taught the skill of projecting her voice up into the rafters. But she’s in a punk rock band, so there’s both an anger and playful spirit present in her singing, and she moves back and forth between the two at will.

Alongside Haynes’ voice there’s this aggressive, fun — hell, electric —hammering of lo-fi guitars, pounding bass grooves and thundering toms and crash cymbals. Many of the songs provide moments for each instrumentalist to strut their stuff, and those moments are all nicely placed.

Next to Haynes’ vocals, this review can’t go without mentioning the impressive guitar work of Davis. The dude has got the perfect guitar tones to amplify the retro pop sound and the chops to blaze into a searing guitar solo. Each of the songs’ solos are parts worth looking forward to. There’s an adept precision and sporadic melodic structure in his lead work, not unlike J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. on the faster numbers.

Overall, there’s a mysticism to the music that goes beyond the cryptic symbols on the album cover. Get Gonehas a wide range of style that seems to stem from a breadth of influences.

Songs like “Sun” and “Headtrip” feature a heavy dose of trippy exotic/eastern sounds. “Kingdom Come” starts with a jazzesque swagger of swinging, booming drums and choppy guitars.

Of course, the Seratones can do the whole high octane psychedelic garage rock thing, too. “Trees” and “Choking On Your Spit” are awesome examples. There’s also some very smooth, pleasantly paced songs like “Tide.”

In general, the changes within song structure here is very attention grabbing, almost at an unforgiving pace within each song. I like that about the album, but I could see that being a turnoff to listeners who prefer a simpler approach.

This is definitely a music album more so than a songwriting album. I tend to get more into music than lyrics, so I’m a bit biased here. The music is definitely cool, but I found the lyricism to be more on the typical side. Most songs seem to be about lovers’ scorn, redemption and even metaphysics (“Leave your body behind, you don’t need it”).

The album’s production (which was by renowned Squirrel Nut Zipper’s Jimbo Mathus) has a dreamy retro-modern atmosphere (tambourines definitely help here) to it all that wraps around a nasty garage rock core. There’s some extra organ on a few tracks that is definitely needed, but it’s still very impressive the amount of depth and energy the band is able to achieve as a four-piece.

For an impressive debut record like this, the group shows a lot of promise for a future in the industry. I look forward to seeing this band climb that rock n’ roll mountain, and I hope to see them in our area again soon.

3.5/5 stars

Categories: Music