Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GET RIGHT By Getting The Soft White Sixties' New Album

The album that's been on the heaviest rotation for me in the past few days is the album by San-Francisco based The Soft White Sixties.  Stylized "GET RIGHT.", this album is totally awesome.  It was released on March 4th of this year, and I just bought it this week.  I was trying to wait a while until my wallet felt comfortable enough to justify it, but I broke down and bought it anyway this week, and I LOVE it. 

I first heard of these guys from a NoiseTrade sampler they have, and then an EP that they have on iTunes, and now they've finally released a full-length LP.  The band is currently rippin' up venues at SXSW in Austin, TX, playing as many as three shows a day some days, and then they'll embark on a slow journey back home to San Francisco, hitting a bunch of towns in between.  Dang, they came through Utah last summer, before I knew about them.  Maybe someday in the future they'll make the trip again.

The band's sound reminds me a lot of the Black Keys - it's a very blues-rock influenced sound.  40 years ago, The Who were described as playing "Maximum R&B", and that label has been resurrected to describe the Soft White Sixties.  It's definitely a fitting description for this hard-driving band who manages to imbibe their album with all the energy and feel of a live album, while maintaining a tight, polished studio sound.  It's a delicate line and the album does a great job at it.  

Here's a quick summary of my favorite tracks:

"Up To the Light" which, independent of the name, reminds me a lot of "Everlasting Light" by the Black Keys.  It's got a happy retro-pop sound and a killer bass groove that's punctuated with crunchy guitars.

"Rubber Band" starts off in an interesting lounge-style vein and then completely shifts into a pounding chorus and clever lyrics with silly imagery in the lyrics like "I know sometimes it can taste like someone poured salt in your coffee".

"Roll Away" would fit right in with the other tracks on "Get Behind Me Satan" by the White Stripes.  Featuring heavy auditorium-style reverb and a slow piano line, it's a good change of tempo in the middle of the album.

"Treat Me" - this baby needs some heavy mainstream radio play so all of the unwashed masses can be exposed to its excellence.  It's the perfect little catchy pop song, complete with carefully-crafted piano hooks and an infectious, simple chorus that just begs you to sing along.  This track also needs to be re-treated as an acoustic version in their live shows.  Just sayin'.  In case anybody ever reads this.  And if not, I like it so much that I think I'll play an acoustic cover of the song myself.  

Finally, "Knock it Loose", officially listed as a "Bonus Track" on the album (probably included because of popular demand from their fans) is a killer blues-rock anthem.  Blast it from your car as you roll through town and everyone with any music taste at all will thank you.  Super crunchy fuzz-pedaled guitars and pounding drums with raspy vocals on a delay filter make this track burn.

The one thing this album is missing is some killer guitar solos.  There are a few bars of mediocre guitar solo in the track "Lemon Squeezer", but it's conspicuously absent in the rest of the album.  Not that I'm complaining too much.  Some of these tracks are perfect as they stand and don't need elaboration on the album.  In their live acts, they do spend some time improvising and soloing, but it's usually just a few short bars, like it is on the album.  I am a major fan of instrumental solos and improvisation, especially in such a blues-influenced genre, so it is just a tiny bit disappointing to not hear any of that on this album.  Maybe improvisation isn't their strong point and they spend their time crafting perfect pop melodies and hooks instead.

Well, what are you waiting for?  GET RIGHT. and get the album right now!  $9.99 on iTunes, or save fifty cents and get it on Google Play or Amazon mp3.  You can also "try before you buy" and stream the entire album via SoundCloud on Paste's website.

P.S.  It's funny to watch how far the band has come from their live videos.  In their first shows they were sporting crummy instruments and off-brand amps in tiny venues, and nowadays they rock Gretsch and Gibson guitars with big Marshall and Orange amps and huge effects racks, and they have a killer live sound.

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