In the frustrating world of modern music, there is little room for experimentation. Pop music has to either be highly danceable and repetitive or overly serious. This narrow spectrum has made some incredible music, but that music is then imitated until that style is so generic that the music loses all pulse. The bands that have fun and challenge you with music that is either complex or doesn’t take itself too seriously (or worse both) is kept off the monotony of the radio. The Top 40 format has become very good at producing millionaires, but at the expense of our musical palate.
The Serenaders are an Atlanta band that challenges this trend. I know I pound into the back of your head the idea that music should be fun, but I mean that. Music should reward those who listen. Yes, an Animal Collective album will reward you after the hundredth listen, but The Serenaders album “My One and Only You” rewards you immediately. The lyrics are charming and engaging, they are often self-deprecating and funny, while not joking. It is music that leaves you with a smile with such lyrics as “I’m gonna love you forever, For at least a couple years; I been down this road before, And it always ends in tears; I been seein’ the familiar signs, It’s exactly what I feared; I’m gonna love you forever, For at least a couple years,” from the song “These Familiar Tears”, or “We’re like a ride on your favorite escalator, ‘Cuz we are the Serenaders,” from the “Serenaders’ Waltz” or “Willie sings about whisky and women, Patsy sings about love; Hank can sing about any damn thing, Underneath the stars above; Well I’m no star but I’ve been known, To scratch out a song or two; And given the choice, I like to sing about you,” from “At your Will” or, “Then the phone starts to ring without warning, And I recognize your voice on the other end; I was just starting to feel better this morning, O baby it’s good to hear from you; Please don’t ever call me again,” from “Without Warning.”
I hate to pigeonhole bands, but think of the nerd/silly rock of the 1990s and early 2000s, like your Ben Folds, Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, or Fountains of Wayne, and you have the Serenaders’ lyrical style and sense of fun; the most distinct difference is the sound. The album has a bluegrass/country feel, which adds to the sense of irony and fun. This is not your bluegrass or country stereotype; the themes are similar, but at the end you smile. This feel, though, is authentic. Their sound is rough and unpolished. I don’t mean to say bad; far from it. The album is incredibly well mixed and the drumming is sharp and crisp, the guitar is so skilled it adds punctuation on its own, and the bass fills in the chords to create an incredibly full sound that emanates through the tracks. However, the music is clearly their own; the roughness comes from the honesty of the music; there is no auto-tuning and you really get the feeling that their shows would feel like the album.
As you can imagine, I listen to a lot of music. I often have 10-15 albums from my music service (I will name them when they pay me to endorse them) that I am leafing through and rating as I listen to them. This is how I go back and recall tracks to put in the blog or mixes. However, after listening to the Serenaders just a couple times, there are songs I am humming. They fill a musical gap in my massive collection and are one of the best finds I have had all summer. Find them and love them.
Listen to the sample track “Caroline”
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Or visit their website to hear more, purchase swag, and see upcoming performances.