Thursday, May 17, 2012

Music Review: The Satin Chaps, ‘Might I Suggest The Satin Chaps?’

By APRIL?LINE - Sun-Gazette Correspondent , Williamsport Sun-Gazette
Pure energy weaves itself through every track on The Satin Chaps's first release, "Might I Suggest The Satin Chaps?" It's fun and infectious and it smacks of parody. Indeed, bassist and percussionist Eric Hedford said, "We dig dance party music: '60s go-go combined with late '60s European and German soft-core porno soundtracks. We write with that sound as our ideal."
Boy oh boy do they deliver. There are maybe thirty words worth of lyrics in all nine tracks, but vocal horns stand in and sing while the audience gets its groove on. The Chaps roll over myriad percussion including woodblock, brushed cymbal, traditional kit beats and hand claps. Whenever there are vocals, they are chants or a pithy sentence, barely sung, like, "You know you can't do it like you really wanna do it, Baby," from the third track, "Jump Shout Shake."

This is not a soundtrack for a polite dinner, or good background music. This is a soundtrack for fast-driving road trips or bump-grinding good times with all your best pals at a club, barbecue or sleepover.

"Funky Matador" is my favorite track. It steps into the ring with a Spaghetti Western melody played on a smarmy trumpet. Enter the downbeat of a pure funk bass line and brushed high hat and the Matador's wearing Elvis's sequined jumpsuit under a disco ball.

In "Cruiser," the seventh track, one of two slower numbers, a leering alto sax asks and answers with trumpet and trombone till they slow trill in thirds and leave the song to drive you off into the sunset.
"Hot Chocolate" gives us the band going "mmm" and "ahhh" between decadent licks while making us wait for the chanted lyric, "hot chocolate!"

Most of the songs are between three and four minutes long and were I to lobby a complaint, it would be that it feels just a touch too long sometimes.

Still, The Chaps boast seasoned musicians: Luke Strahota, Eric Hedford, Peter Dean, Colin Sheridan, Jon Clark, Kyle Haverly and Pat Norris. Strahota is formerly of The High Violets, Hedford from the Dandy Warhols, and Dean from FastComputers.

The band's been recording since 2010, around the same time they started playing live around Portland, Ore. They keep it real with as much authentic equipment and recording procedures as possible, but with Hedford's caveat, "We are not Luddites and we don't shun modern recording conveniences. But we do our research and ask ourselves, 'How would it have been done back in the day?' And then we maintain that spirit."

The thing is, they're fusing genres and having fun, but they're not doing so at the expense of the original music's spirit and they're not too self serious or avant garde. So, while this is a little off the trodden path, it's also totally accessible. Everybody will love it: people who grew up with the garage anthems of the '60s, folks who covet a simpler time and anybody who likes to rock out and get down.
The album drops on June 12, but catch a sneak peak by visiting them online at, where you can pre-order it.

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