If there’s a better vibe to ride than that classic Rocksteady clank and grind, I beg you to show it me. Ironically enough, the highlight of my summer soundtrack has been that very vibe channeling four Queens, NY brethren with an ample dose of love and loss. Nothing More To Say was released this past week on the ultra-legendary Daptone stamp, and from first chordings of album opener “All My Tears” the throwback is formidable and fortuitous. As fresh as a long lost Jimmy Cliff cut out of Trenchtown time capsule, bouncing riffs from guitar and keys, snappy drum moves with a snare roll to wake the dead. Singer-songwriter Dan Klein’s delivers a ghostly tenor drenched in reverb and echo, succulent and timeless. Simply stated, this record would hold as much weight in 1967 as it surely does in 2016.
There is plenty a band sailing the Caribbean vibe, most inauspicious and lacking valor, see Pepper or enter any other Sublime rip off band excuse here. On the contrary, the Frightnrs have not a morsel of bullshit in their mix. No pretentious songs about being the superlative spliffmaster deluxe or women and their lovely bits, although I’m still uncertain as to whether the song “Purple” is about my favorite luscious green plant or not. These four have done their homework and it’s evident. Keep it simple, strenuous and flavorful. Klein’s lyrics are heady and empowering, owing as much to Alton Ellis as Maya Angelou, and the Frightnrs’ material about losing your girlfriend that will have you in search of some dance floor space or at least a cold libation. Organ fills and chugging guitar riffs pump the rhythm and sparse, at times non-existent drum patterns throughout the record. Copious amounts of early rhythm and blues are evident and invited; “Hey Brother (Do Unto Others)” is a nod in that direction but also a life lesson we as Americans need to adhere to. It is, after all, golden to people of all colors, sizes, sexes, and sexual orientations. Just leave the animals and kids alone.
Having made their mark dredging through clubs and the NYC live music scene since 2010, the Frightnrs’ first release garnered heavy radio play locally and abroad, ultimately catching the ear of the Daptone staff, fresh off a stellar release of Charles Bradley’s latest and former releases the likes of Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones and, of course, The Dap Kings – some of the best musicians and producers ever to walk the planet. The NYC label seemed to be the missing link, capturing the recording in 2015 shortly before Dan Klein’s ALS diagnosis that ultimately led to his untimely passing, which plainly galvanizes the weight of loss on the record. Even if the song material doesn’t pertain to the struggle he endured, it’s felt in spades. Bandmates, Rich Terrana (drums), and brothers Preet and Chuck Patel (bass and piano, respectively), wanted nothing more than to honor the tragic loss of their fallen counterpart with a flawless record. Kudos fellas, Nothing More To Say is a timeless masterpiece. Rest peacefully, Dan Klein, and I genuinely hope to hear more from the band with a new voice.
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