Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Have A Blast With The Bang

It's no secret that I'm a fan of 60s Soul and Garage. But every once in a while, I'll come accross a current act that will simply float my boat. This is the case with San Francisco based The Bang. When you think "Girl Group", it doesn't come any more soulful then this. Their debut album,  Soul Shangri-La, is coming out this month. If when I first listen to an album I instantly see myself  spinning one of the songs as a DJ, then it's a really good sign. 

Tish Peterson, Rachel Mae Havens and Angeline King

Lets not kid ourselves, the music is undoubtedly inspired from the decade we all love but that doesn't mean it's a pastiche. It's just good solid music. Close your eyes while listenning to the album and you could swear that some of the tracks were recorded at Hitsville or Stax.

It's no coincidence because a lot of planning and effort went into crafting that sound. Derek See, the guitarist of the group, told Parka Avenue:

We made a conscious decision to record our album using not only the technology of the era that our music is drawn from that we love so much but also, more importantly, recorded it in a way that shows the strengths of the band. The ladies' vocals were all tracked together; the three of them gathered around two microphones (whoever was lead singer had her own mic while the backings where sang into the same mic). This is the way it was done, and it presents not only a complete performance but also the natural blend of the group. There are points where Angeline and Tisha Joy's harmonies are so close they sound as though they are one voice overdubbed! The music performed by the gentlemen was recorded by the band, together, in the same room. Nothing compares to the passion and heart that a group of musicians create when they are in the same room, making eye contact, watching physical communication. This is the root of the "magic" of the old recordings. Percussion was overdubbed (as we don't have a dedicated percussionist) as well as a few guitar tracks (all of the guitar solos were cut live with the band, as feeling the ice drum kicks me into playing better, always).

It's one thing to recreate the atmosphere and mood of a by gone era but to also go the extra mile in mixing the album the old school way shows commitment. 

As for how it was captured, we went for pure simplicity; our engineer, Brad McGowan, understood the nature of the project and brilliantly recorded the instruments in a way where no further equalization or compression was needed. Brad captured the true tonalities of our instruments and amplifiers, and it was laid down onto an MCI 1" Eight Track machine. We mixed down to a Studer tape deck as well. All of the reverb heard is from a spring unit, which was slightly delayed via a second tape deck; delaying the reverb slightly is the closest analog path we could get to the magic of the old echo chambers. The vinyl Lp was cut directly from the mix down tapes (an important step lost in many modern vinyl pressings) and the digital/ CD version is mastered off of the vinyl, which adds its lovely tonal coloring to the release (don't worry- there's no surface noise or pops n clicks- this is a high quality transfer). Modern records feel safe and sterile oftentimes because they are bogged down with pitch correction, cutting and pasting multiple performances into one song, etc. We did not use ANY of this technology in making the record. Only the natural talents of the band and recording engineer are on display, and we are very proud of this fact.

With four original songs on the album, Drink In Hand, You Got My Love, Another Notch On His Belt and Not Your Fool, it goes to show that they are not just another talented cover band. I'm not much for deconstructing every song in a album so I'll let you judge by yourself. This one has been going around in a loop in my tiny brain of mine for a while. Catchy is the opperative word.

Aside from having melodic voices, the ladies have the style mastered perfectly and dare I say, are very pleasing to the eye. Have a behind the scenes look at the recording process here. You can see them work on one of their original songs Another Notch On His Belt.

The covers are worth mentioning also. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of Etta James' In The Basement. A real party starter! The only real downside to this group is that, being from California, it might take a while before I see them live.

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