Release Date: May 18, 2012
Secret City Records; 11 Tracks
Review by: Lee Fraser
Peterborough band, Tarantuela, release rocking debut album.
There's been a lot of focus lately on blues-infused rock bands, bands with southern soul, bands that produce that sound of the late 60's. Bands become "overnight" successes with spots on Letterman and magazine covers. They're touring the continent in big fancy buses and playing large, unfriendly venues.
But here's the good news: you can find this soul-moving music right here at home. You can catch them while they're still on their way to being a success. Peterborough band Tarantuela have talent, ingenious musical timing, and presumably parents with great record collections. Lead singer Jay Swinnerton has a swagger in his voice like a young Mick Jagger. He's supported by a band centered around guitars, keys and percussion, but that's just the beginning of the story.
Good Luck-Black Cat-Bad Luck is the debut album for the young band and the third release for the burgeoning Cameron House Records. The Tarantuela album is a perfect addition for the homey label, joining Kayla Howran's solid country offering, Pistol. Co-produced by James Mckenty (Greg Keelor, The Sadies), this record is a collection of very memorable tunes, each one well-crafted to capture the spirit of such a great sound.
What stands out about these songs is the how they are composed. There are horns, accordion, violin, mandolin and harmonica. Some tunes feature organ while others are littered with plinky piano. But the boys in the band are not scattering instruments liberally because they can; each note is carefully placed, each instrument provides just the right accent in just the right place.
The timing is another strength here. On the title track, the band expertly plays with the beats, slowing the bridge right down, using an increasing tempo for the refrain that gets you completely lost in the song in a hurry. They build suspense in their songs, keeping you wrapped around their skilled little fingers and wanting more. Several of the songs have a New Orleans feel about them, but there are also songs that might have you doing a double-take, wondering if someone threw some early Stones into the mix. Swinnerton's vocals range from boozey blues to growling anger to bashful jubilance.
The record is full of highlights ("In My Parade", "Educated Man" and "Three Time Loser" are constantly going through my head these days), but possibly the most enjoyable is the final track, "Rita May". Recorded in the back room of the Cameron last September with a boat load of musicians and one great dog, this track will have you hooked after your first listen. The accordion, the violin, the gang vocals, the escalating refrain; it won’t be long before you're belting this one out in the shower.
You can check out Tarantuela at their CD Release at the Horseshoe Tavern on Friday, May 18. And do yourself a favour: pick up the album so that you'll be able to belt out the choruses.