Seratones morph their garage fuzz into smart, sophisticated soul-pop on Power | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Seratones morph their garage fuzz into smart, sophisticated soul-pop on Power

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When Seratones released their 2016 debut album, Get Gone, it seemed they were on to something special: though they’re from Shreveport, Louisiana, their soulful punk sound came across like it had grown out of a musical road trip across the U.S., with stops in the deep south, Motor City, Memphis, Paisley Park, and assorted California beaches. The band’s new album, Power, tamps down the fuzzed-out atmospheres of their early material in favor of soul-pop sophistication without losing any of the music’s bustling eclecticism or the fire that blazes at its core. Seratones’ not-so-secret weapon is their gospel-trained front woman, A.J. Haynes, whose distinctive honey-toned voice and twinkling vibrato could’ve made Billie Holiday envious. Haynes has also worked as an educator and as a counselor at a Louisiana abortion clinic, and on Power she dives deep into her musical background of vintage soul and funk as she explores questions of personal, social, and political autonomy. On opening track “Fear,” Haynes sets the stage: “Whether the season / Can you weather the storm?” she asks over a charming girl-group backdrop. The sultry “Permission” merges organ, stripped-down percussion, and gospel backup vocals with a narrative about bedroom communication and indulging a lover’s sexual fantasies—as long as it’s a two-way street. The biggest stunner is the sleek title track, an urgent but controlled rallying cry about channeling inner strength to triumph over adversity; I had its synth-lined chorus memorized by the end of my first listen, and it’s been in my rotation ever since. Seratones were already a compelling force when they played here in 2016, and their evolution from Get Gone to Power suggests that this show will be even more spectacular.   v

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