The secret is out – New York trio The London Souls released their latest effort “Here Come the Girls” on Tuesday, April 7, on Feel Records. The rock ‘n’ roll outfit draws upon British influences of Cream and Led Zeppelin, combined with lyrical hooks and rocking instrumental breaks. The new album serves up 13 reasons to jump on the Souls’ bandwagon. The London Souls are a fusion of past and present, mixing The Beatles and The Hollies with the psychedelia of contemporaries like My Morning Jacket.
The London Souls is comprised of Tash Neal, guitar and vocals; Chris St. Hilaire, drums and vocals; and Stu Mahan, bass. Since 2008, the trio has redefined rock ‘n’ roll, praised by music critic Maura Johnston as “amazingly tight … swampy rock music that should make any lazy rock radio programmer rethink the word ‘grunge’ …an absolute must-see.”
Although the album trumps Johnston’s words, it fails to capture their energetic live performances. The Souls have appeared at Austin’s South x Southwest Music Festival, Telluride Blues, Brooklyn’s Afro-Punk Festival, moe.down and held the opening spot for Rolling Stone editor Austin Scaggs’ Petty Fest at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. The group just finished their stint with Virginia-based Americana band Sons of Bill and have shared the stage with The Roots, Janelle Monae, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, The Cool Kids, Soulive, Big Boi, Shooter Jennings and Steel Train.
The opening track, “When I’m With You,” is melodic and lyric driven, with loud fills around the toms and a driving chorus reminiscent of an energetic, hard-rock Beatles tune. “Steady,” the second song, sits back in the pocket – Hilaire clearly taking notice to John Bonham’s precision on “Kashmir.”
Not only do The London Souls sound the part, but they look it too. As we delve deeper into the album, we discover new interpretations paired seamlessly with musical innovation and feeling.
It is clear where The London Souls came from and, with striking confidence, “Here Come the Girls” sets a new tempo for the up-and-coming rock duo.
But The London Souls reveal a soft side – “Hercules” and “Isabell” are soothing, from Neal’s fingerstyle guitar to the hypnotising lyrics. It is all about peaks and valleys, keeping us guessing if the songs will coax us into a deep sleep or startle with pronounced electric guitar riffs. Other tracks like “How Can I Get Through” are upbeat and frantic while “Bobby James” becomes soulful and relaxed.
What can’t The London Souls do? Lyrical hooks, smooth harmonies and syncopated rhythms fuse with the shuffle on drums and stride piano that is “Bobby James.” Other tracks like “Run Zombie Run” are spooky — a mix of dissonant chords, slide guitar and almost-falsetto voice.
This is a band that has found their sound and knows how to flaunt it.