We get piles upon piles of R&B, hip-hop, and alternative around here, right? How about a modernized blast to the past?
Surf-psychedelic-experimental, to be precise.
Just to give you an idea, that’s the style of The Beach Boys, Iron Butterfly, and The Velvet Underground, morphed into one. And maybe a tiny bit of The Jesus And Mary Chain.
St. Pete’s own Liquid Pennies has fit that exotically innovative style since its conception in 2018. After a year of jamming inside the walls of Planet Retro Records and Lucky You Tattoo, the band released its debut Floods EP in October of 2019 (which totally had the potential and length to serve as a proper album). This was shortly before Zoë Turtle brought her harmonious vocals and violin expertise into the band, making Liquid Pennies the quartet it is today.
The band’s latest effort, Distant Dawn, is a 40-minute, four-track album, created with Proud Miranda producer Nathan Doyle. “Each song ends with a different element that fuses the album together, using analog tape experimentation and field recordings,” frontman Chas Binns told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
And before its release on March 26, Binns and company were kind enough to present a quarter of the album as the main singles.
Closing track and lead single “What Fun,” which dropped a month ago, sees fire symbolized in a primarily dialogic fashion. The first half of the song has an easy-going, surf guitar vibe with ever so slightly asymmetrical harmonies, and the vocals spewing lyrics about passion and desire audibly stand out far more than said instrumentation. Suddenly, the surf sound shifts into something much heavier midway through, and the roles of vocals and instrumentation switch.
A more gritty and heavy sound begins to flow out of Binns’ guitar, and some dramatic violin moments from Turtle tower above whatever lyrics were left to belt out. Through it all, bassist Dylan Carney and drummer JJ Kimmel seem to have no difficulty keeping up with the two.
As for the10-minute-strong opening track “Camp,” the element that is earth is represented. It takes almost five minutes for the handful of Danny Elfman-esque vocals included to kick in. Said vocals are sandwiched in between some pretty exuberant guitar work on Binns’ part. Opening the song are a few surf rock licks fronting some chirping birds. Once Binns’ vocals are revealed, the surf sound disappears, and like the closing track to come, some obvious guitar pedals come into play for the remainder of the song.
The distortions of “Dissolver” (representing water), and harmonies of “Left” (air, dummy!) are also as structurally and melodically eclectic as you can get, so be warned: This is the kind of music that is capable of filling a massive venue like Amalie Arena, but will also make it in an intimate venue like the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre by refraining from absolutely shredding its acoustics apart.
By the way, Mr. Binns was in a gnarly skating accident recently, and he could really use your help. In order for Liquid Pennies to continue the promotion of what promises to be an album to remember, a speedy recovery for their frontman is wholly required.
See a list of Tampa “Safe & Sound” live music venues here.
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