Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Albums of 2016 - Number 4

get gone

I had the pleasure of seeing Seratones open for St. Paul & The Broken Bones last year and was blown away by them. This year, their debut full length album, Get Gone, came out and I am blown away with how closely it captures their live feel. They kind of explode on you with an energy that overflows with psyche, voodoo and soul. This may be the most unique sounding rock band of the past several years, partly due to singer A.J. Haynes's freaky R&B vocals, but beyond that, the songs themselves are just very special with a hard to pinpoint, but exciting, vibe. This is all very much in my wheelhouse, bringing together so many things I love in a package that ends up being much greater than its parts.

Wasting no time on setting up the vibe, "Choking on Your Spit" drops you right into what I imagine to be some groovy house party with lava lamps, beaded curtains and projections on the smoking band. Somewhere in the room, though, is a crystal ball and it's likely that the singer herself is the one that has been reading it between sets. As if I had forgotten to mention it, the next song, "Headtrip," reminds me there are bongs and naked people here as well. But what you'll also notice about this party is that, in spite of the imagery, it's not taking place in the past at all, but rather in some alternate dimension where several time periods and scenes just sort of always exist and co-mingle.

Amid the raucous, there's also a shimmering quality that comes through in songs like "Tide" and the title track, adding texture, depth and range to the whole. The desert twang and Whoo Ooh!" holler of that title track is one of my favorite moments of the album. So much attitude and swagger there and really on the whole album.

The flow of the songs is just right, never losing energy, but never beating you down either. Just when things have kind of settled, "Trees" kicks it back into gear. Then "Don't Need It" just flat out tells us to "leave your body behind" because the party - the journey - is going beyond this or any room. Finally, "Keep Me" is basically a lullaby, but maybe for astral dreamers and tantric lovers with lyrics like "And when you start feeling steady, I will wrap my legs round your waist. Got away with everything you let me. You will smile to find me when you wake."

Is cosmic psyche garage R&B a genre? Maybe it is now. I don't know, maybe labels miss the point (they usually do), but there is something definitely happening here that is different from anything I've heard before in this exact combination. And A.J. Haynes is officially one of my favorite voices in music right now. Aside from having the chops (which she most definitely does), her delivery has a combination of authority and carefree rebellion that is hard to come by. I hope to see Seratones live again and to see where they take their sound next. This was definitely the best debut album of the year and one of the best of the last several years.

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