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For nearly a decade, Seratones have been honing their craft within and around their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. Despite winning the Louisiana Music Prize in 2013 and being named by Rolling Stone as one of the ten artists to watch that same year, success and popularity has alluded the quartet. Things started to turn the corner for AJ Haynes (vocals/guitar), Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass), and Jesse Gabriel (drums) when they signed with Fat Possum Records last year. This year they were invited to perform a NPR Tiny Desk contest, blew away those at SXSW, and joined The Dandy Warhols on a cross-North American tour. While their popularity has skyrocketed this year, Seratones remain a blue-collar, down-to-earth, high-energy band, who respond to virtually any request (like our tribute to Prince) and put on a live show that will just blow your minds. And they’ve achieved all this without having released a full-length album…until last week.
There are countless of adjectives and superlatives to describe Seratones’ debut album, Get Gone, but only one word would suffice – AWESOME. Get Gone is first and foremost a rock ‘n roll album, which is a rarity in today’s music. Most of its eleven tracks are founded in the rock ‘n roll of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, channeling virtually every corner of the genre with some clever splashes of funk and soul to help round out the album. Like the great rock albums in history, Get Gone opens with a bang with “Choking On Your Spit”, a blistering, southern-infused garage rock. It is raw, gritty, and edgy with Haynes’ vocals channeling Janis Joplin while her bandmates have put together a ferocious medley of blistering guitars, an awesome bass line, and pounding drumming.
“Headtrip” retains the intensity of the opening track, beginning with Gabriel’s intense drumming before easing into a full-blown, hip-shaking, southern rocker. The song echoes the mid-career work of My Morning Jacket (It Still Moves) or Kings of Leon before their radio-rock days. “Sun” is another rocker – the most straightforward on the album – that is easy to get lost in the dizzying whirlwind of cascading guitars and Haynes’ slowly intensifying vocals. The title track, meanwhile, personifies the potential greatness of Seratones. Taking a page out of The Black Crowes’ playbook, “Get Gone” is a slow-building, soul-infused, southern rocker. Haynes’ vocals take on an enchanting quality to lure you, but then her bandmates blow you away as the song escalates into a full-blown rocker, highlighted by Davis’ guitar solo.
As good as “Get Gone” is, “Chandelier” is the album’s star. The track is a funk-infused rocker that simply is spectacular. If Prince was still around and wrote a song for Alabama Shakes, it would probably sound a lot like this – a song that simultaneously have you dancing, unexpectedly fist pumping, and all the while being lulled into a dreamy state. The transitions and fluctuations in this track – moving from funk to southern rock to splashes of dream-pop – are ingenious, making it an early contender for song of the year. The blending of different genres is repeated on “Kingdom Come”, which incorporates post-punk with garage-rock. The combination yields a sound that comes close to replicating the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in their early days before the Seratones dial up the guitar hooks and the southern-rock ferocity.
Although Get Gone is a rock album, Seratones do dabble in other genres. The first half of “Don’t Need It” is a soulful tune a la Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings but the second half is a different story – it finishes off as an outrageously terrific rendition of ’90s alternative rock. The guitar solo is awesome, bordering on Soundgarden brilliance. “Tide” is a ’70s-esque, soul-rock tune, where Haynes’ voice mirrors the great Roberta Flack.
The album’s closer, “Keep Me”, is the most “puzzling” song on the album because it is anything but a rocker. It is, instead, a tender, dreamy ballad that combines ’70s Laurel Canyon folk-rock and ’70s soul. Like the other songs on the album, however, “Keep Me” surprisingly sticks with you after all the blistering numbers. And maybe that’s the point of “Keep Me” – a song that will make you re-assess Get Gone, and the only way to do that is to hear repeatedly. Then again, an album this good must be heard over and over and over. It’s not just an AWESOME album, but it is one of the best albums of 2016 so far.
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