That age-old question always seems to rear its ugly head. "What's your favorite band?"
My answer is simply that I do not have one, mainly because I have many, many favorites. Hundreds, even.
If I had to make a list today the Reigning Sound would be right at the top. Check them out in this first in a series – "Bands to Know."
The Reigning Sound
Hailing from Asheville, N.C., via Memphis, Tenn., the Reigning Sound has been creating rough-edged, yet perfect albums for over 11 years.
Founded by garage-punk pioneer and a founding member of legendary bands such as the Compulsive Gamblers and the Oblivians, Greg Cartwright, the Reigning Sound reeks of real, honest-to-god rock and roll – no shtick, no polish, no glitz and glam.
The songwriting is simple, yet powerful, and even the few sprinkles of cover tunes on their records become original when touched by Cartwright's personal styling and vocals.
"We were never really like most of the other bands," says Cartwright. "I covered R&B, gospel or country songs with absolutely no regard for any 60's aesthetic or sound, I just enjoyed finding an obscure song and breathing some new life into it." - from In The Red.
Their live show is a can't-miss event, the noise crescendoing into a powerful juggernaut throughout a set. But what's even better is their sound, once recorded, doesn't lose any of its appeal to any unfortunate studio tampering and watered down mixing that happens more often than not to many great bands.
On the softer side, Cartwright's original ballads are quite frankly heartbreaking – beautiful without the need to be sappy or overly sentimental. His lyrics are simple and heartfelt, sometimes harsh and brutally honest, telling his stories through raspy vocals, unwavering guitar twang and a pounding beat.
Over the years, the Reigning Sound has produced a slew of studio as well as live albums and played with many a revered artist – notably including Mary Weiss from 1960s girl group The Shangri-Las. The Reigning Sound was her touring and back-up band for her 2005 release "Dangerous Game," in which Cartwright wrote nine out of the 14 songs on the album.
It's no surprise this pairing took place, since many of the influences you hear in the Reigning Sound's music stems from that golden era of music, the 1960s. But don't be mistaken, Cartwright doesn't rehash what's been done, he creates something new and different from those hallowed, yet formulaic sounds found in 60s girl groups, garage, and classic country twang.
What I find most appealing about the Reigning Sound is their ability to draw a wide audience. It isn't scary, untouchable art rock or harsh punk, but rather a combination of styles that engulf real human emotions with rock and roll sensibilities. It's everybody's music, really. Music we can all dance to, sing to and unabashedly enjoy – sometimes even cry. It's completely relatable, laced with lovesickness and ecstasy to longing and jealousy. Sometimes – even anger.
The Reigning Sound is currently on tour, and if you get a chance, I wouldn't miss a live show. You can check their tour schedule as well as everything else you'd like to know on Facebook.
Another tidbit to make you get up and say "yeah" is the release of a new Oblivians album with these icons of garage rock – Cartwright, Eric Friedl and Jack Oblivian . It will be their first release in over 15 years, coming out on In The Red sometime in 2012. If you are around the Memphis area, you can catch a rare live Oblivians moment, Monday, July 30, at the Hi-Tone.
Twinkle VanWinkle ponders, creates and discovers cool stuff about music, movies, food, fashion and so forth. Her thoughtful writings and interactives give great advice about healthy food, cooking tips, DIY projects, fashion and more. She'll teach you a thing or two about music as well. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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