Tuesday, July 15, 2014

REVIEW: Reigning Sound - Shattered

I doubt that When You Motor Away is alone in its love for a sound that combines garage rock, southern rock, and soul.  And a band that does it about as well as anyone around these days is the current iteration of Reigning Sound.  Unfamiliar with them?  The band is organized around George Cartwright, whose past projects include Detroit Cobras, Deadly Snakes, and The Oblivians.  For Shattered, the new album just released on Merge Records, Cartwright, is joined by his longtime collaborator and keyboardist Dave Amels, and Mike Catanese, Benny Trokan, and Mikey Post.  Mike, Benny and Mikey all had played with Dave in a soul band called The Jay Vons.  The combination of  players may be new, but the result, when melded with Cartwright's songwriting, is rock and roll magic.  The songs are sincere, emotionally direct and span from roadhouse rock and roll to ballads.  As appropriate, the vocals convey world-weary resoluteness and rock and roll swagger.  Moreover, the music jumps out of the speakers with a live recording vibrancy, while still leaving no doubt that the band is tight, crisp, polished and punchy.

The album opens with "North Cackalacky Girl", a rocking number with organ trills and guitar solos, Cartwright's gritty and velvet tenor and a driving beat.  The following "Never Coming Home" (stream below) emerges as one of the standout tracks, the upbeat melody carrying a story of a clear eyed view of a failed relationship.  The Reigning Sound soul revue kicks into high gear with the glorious "Falling Rain" (stream below).  Soulful, nuanced ballads "If You Gotta Leave" and "Once More" hold tracks four and six, respectively.  Those ballads sandwich one of my favorite tracks -- the forward-pushing '60s garage rock nugget "You Did Wrong", which to my ears plays like a lost early Zombies demo.  But for me, the best soul rocker on the album is "My My" (stream below), which makes me want to go for a drive with the windows down and the stereo turned up (thank you, Merge, for not releasing this album in the winter).  And to give props when due, the bass player absolutely earned his share on this song.  I think that the best of the ballads is track eight, "Starting New", as it showcases Cartwright's ability to deliver a note-perfect '70s slow burning soul song.  "Baby, It's Too Late" is rousing soul rock.  "In My Dreams" is an atmospheric, organ-driven, mid-tempo blues song.  Shattered closes with "I'm Trying (To Be the Man You Need"), an absolutely delicious soul ballad.

As news of this album trickles out, I expect that it will garner a lot of praise.  That praise will be well deserved, and you deserve this album.  Check it out.

Shattered was recorded at the Daptone studio in Brooklyn.  It is out now via Merge Records.

Merge Records page for Reigning Sound

1 comment:

Jim Desmond said...

This is one of my favorite CDs of the year. Terrific songs and performances. I love the soul songs, especially I'm Trying (To Be The Man You Need).