Last April, I received a text message from Steve, lead singer and guitarist of French-American punk-rock band Sinner Sinners. He asked me if I wanted to record the vocal parts of their upcoming EP « Hanging On » in exchange for a cheap beer pack. Being an easy bitch, I said yes, of course. I was particularly inspired to accept this deal because Steve rewarded me even more when we recorded. He went above and beyond and treat me with a delicious and expensive Five Guys burger after our first session. Needless to say, it was all worth it. Yet, he might have been manipulating him because he had a secret agenda. The tracks needed some backing vocals. Nevertheless, I fell for it and ruined the songs with some of my most brilliant falsettos. Fortunately, you can barely hear it in the mix made by Pascal Mondaz, their go-to guy in France. He's cheap, too, and he's very good at his job. I'm sure he did for a couple of croissants, cronuts or a bottle of La Villageoise. That's the best way to coerce your friends into working for you for almost nothing: give them unhealthy food.
As you can understand, I’m totally biased and there’s even a conflict of interests in me writing this review but I’ll still do it because the music is fucking good! And I have nothing to do with that. Actually, the band doesn’t have any merit in it either because it’s a cover EP. They chose 3 songs from The Cure, Eddie Floyd and The Supremes. The legendary Memphis label Stax was home to Eddie Floyd in the 1960s and 1970s. The Supremes were part of Motown, Detroit's counterpart. Both covers feature multi-awarded trumpetist Dan Rosenboom and saxophonist Gavin Templeton. Honestly, I was having a hard time imagining Sinner Sinners going into Soul territory, but it might be one of their best moves. They combined a high energy approach with a classic soul vibe so well. The original songs were sped up, crunch added, and the result is very Detroity. When you think about it, it makes sense. Iggy, the Stooges, the MC5, and consort all took inspiration from Motown. Just compare Lust For Life with You Can't Hurry Love by The Supremes and you’ll hear what I mean.
After a short guitar and drum fill intro, Big Bird jumps into a layered wall of trumpets and saxophones. The tone is set. Besides Steve's raucous voice, an improvised backing choir consists of Sam Thill (Steve's wife and Sinner Sinners keyboardist), Céline Royer (another French friend and amazing light designer), and myself. Guitar noise, brass, and woodwinds culminate in an exhilarating crescendo.
The Supremes' Keep Me Hanging On follows the same path and immerses us in a Soul-Punk atmosphere. In this song, Celine's vocals complement Sam's vocals, making it a well-rounded song. Here we are again treated to a beautiful duet of saxophones and trumpets.
Last but not least, Hanging On includes a cover by the Cure. There's no soul inspiration here, but it's a spot on take on the saddest English band ever. It’s a proof you don’t need a wall of distortion to make a heavy and engaging song. A great mix of clean tones and high energy is enough to make you want to throw your TV out of the window and dance around your room like a 16-year-old.
I know, I am totally biased, you can't really trust me on this one. However, you shouldn't ignore that EP. And you should pay attention to that band. They're one of the best live bands I've seen in the last decade.
I heard this might be a prequel to an upcoming new album. My hope is that they will have funds to pay me with more Budweiser and Five Guys burgers because I want to be part of it.
- Vincent Walter Jacob
It’s out today:
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