August 6, 2013, 8:17 am
Summer's here, take a slow ride with heartland rockers The Candles
It's summer and you know what that means: great weather and sunshine, friends, good times and hopefully, some new music to pop in the stereo while you're on the road making good memories. The Candles just released their second full-length album "La Candelaria" last month, and if you're a regular KINK listener this is a band that may appeal to you.
"La Candelaria" opens with promising notes and the rolling tempo of "Blind Light." Singer-songwriter Josh Lattanzi cites Neil Young as one of his influences and the introductory harmonica on "Blind Light" sure calls Young to mind. Creative guitar touches by Lattanzi and Jason Roberts add great emphasis and punctuation. This is a band that plays comfortably together with the kind of good vibe that will pull you in for the ride.
An accomplished musician with a diverse history behind him, frontman Lattanzi was formerly with alternative rockers The Lemonheads and also played bass for Norah Jones. It was Jones' invitation to be warmup act on her tour that got The Candles their first broad-based exposure allowing them to test drive some of their songs, which were well-received.
Lattanzi's sincere vocals sound a bit like a modern-day Randy Meisner of Eagles fame, or a less nasal-y Tom Petty, and are easy on the ears. The Candles in general remind us a bit of 70's country-rockers Pure Prairie League, or perhaps Blind Pilot meets Dawes. We're good with that!
The lonesome, heartfelt and reconciliatory "Believe You Now" follows, featuring great harmonies and excellent lead guitar during the bridge. When Lattanzi laments "Wherever you are / Wherever you are today / I know the sun is shining down upon your pretty face," it's easy to believe him and sympathize.
The comforting "Hello Blue" uplifts us with a great tempo, interesting chord changes and a fun lead guitar riff that sails away at the end. Lattanzi says he was working on the opening riff for a while and kept coming back to it, adding "the middle of the song was sort of designed to be able to be stretched out in a live setting - which is what we've been doing on the road." However he wrote it, for the overly-serious among us, it's plain hard to resist a song with a reassuring chorus line like "You just shouldn't take it so hard."
The Candles are: Josh Lattanzi (vocals, guitar), Jason Roberts (guitar, vocals, percussion), Pete Remm (piano, hammond) and Matt Pynn (guitar, pedal steel, mandolin).
Lattanzi diverse musical history includes singing harmonies on James Taylor's "October Road." When asked, he reports it was "a huge thrill to stand around a mic with him and work on some harmony vocals." Although some may think The Candles have a west-coast sound to them, Lattanzi says they're "most definitely a New York City band," but then adds, "our guitar player Jason just moved to L.A." Maybe Jason's on to something?
Everything here is highly listenable, but you're sure to love standout track "As Far As I Know" with its warm acoustic sound, great steel guitar highlights and a tasteful, playful piano interlude smack dab in the middle. We only hope we'll hear more from that piano in the future.
As Far As I Know
"Gold" is a real rocker with more Neil Young influence and a great refrain - "When the gold is gone / there'll be one less weight on my back." It would be especially fun to hear this one performed live and of all the tracks here this one could win the most-likely-to-be-a-hit-single vote. Drummer Greg Wieczorek provides the solid, steady backbeat on most of the tracks that helps hold it all together.
Rich electric guitar passages on "Come In From The Cold" pack some punch in all the right places, while "Passenger" is an "aw, shucks, we're-in-it-for-the-long-haul" kinda love song with a bit of a C&W feel Lattanzi wrote for his wife while on the road.
Finally, though the rest of the world seems enamored with downloading music these days, this reviewer still appreciates the aesthetics of a good CD; this one features some lovely cover artwork by Christina Simon / Alchemy Design of Austin. Hey, people, artists gotta make a living, too.
The Candles have been on the road touring since June 21, and have shows scheduled later this month in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Tennessee. They'll take a break after that, then hit the road again in mid-October. The Pacific Northwest, perhaps?
Or, visit their website, at: http://www.thecandlesmusic.com
"La Candelaria" got its name from a historic neighborhood Lattanzi visited in Bogota, Columbia while touring. Keep your eye on this band and let's wish them all the best. There's currently a post on Norah Jones' Facebook page giving a shout-out for the new release.
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Cynthia Orlando / follow Cynthia Orlando on Twitter