Seratones - Get Gone (Fat Possum Records)

Seratones – Get Gone (Fat Possum Records)

When you think of garage rock, you probably don’t think of Shreveport.  The Louisiana melting pot brings to mind a fusion of genres but it also has a thriving underground punk scene, one that brought the four members of Seratones together.  Fuelled by the city’s chameleonic scene but rallying against the flood of cover bands it had to offer, they set about forming a group that nodded to blues and jazz while also packing a massive guttural punch on stage.  It’s a combination that’s impressed punters at SXSW and led to the release of their debut album, Get Gone.  All the praise heaped on to their live performances, though, almost makes you wonder whether their ferocious blend of Southern gothic blues would really work as an album.

The answer, in short, is partially.  Get Gone was recorded all in live takes, an attempt to capture the primal spirit of Seratones’ performances and an indication that the band know where their strengths really lie.  Sometimes this works, and much of that is down to frontwoman A.J. Haynes’ immensely powerful voice.  On ‘Chandelier’ she performs vocal acrobatics, flitting from forceful yells that hark back to Janis Joplin to sweet coos with ease.  During ‘Trees’ Haynes woops and yelps on the infectious chorus, juxtaposing with her otherwise earthy tones.  On both tracks the drums are clattering, the riffs energetic and performed with urgency, only slowing down occasionally.

Elsewhere, ‘Tide’ takes its time to build from its seductive, slow-burning opening salvos into a cacophony of guitar licks, crashing cymbals, harmonies and Haynes’ ad-libbing.  ‘Don’t Need It’ opens and closes with grunge riffs that ape Nirvana but between the two ends lies a finger-snapping, swinging pop song that owes just as much to 60s girl groups as it does jazz.  The beautifully tender closer ‘Keep Me’ sees Haynes and the rest of the band reducing the tempo and getting reflective; a minimal synth occasionally rings out, only adding to the melancholy tone.

These songs stand out because they’re willing to alter the tempo, tone things down occasionally and just try something a bit different.  Beyond that, the tracks almost blur into a homogenous mass.  ‘Sun’ aims for psychedelic but falls back on Haynes’ acrobatics and a simple structure; it’s not the wig-out you’re hoping for when the guitar swirls open the song.  The title track is as bluesy as things get and ‘Kingdom Come’ has a very vaguely western vibe, but neither go far enough to inject a bit of extra diversity into the mix.  Once you’ve heard the blistering punk of ‘Choking On Your Spit’ at the beginning, you’ve about half of what’s on offer here.

It rarely feels like Seratones are trying to create an exciting blend of genres on Get Gone, and most examples of diversity come off as purely coincidental.  It’s the sound of a band you can dance like a madman to after a few beers on Saturday night, but only end up listening to a handful of songs during sober Monday mornings.

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