The Suffers, “Slow It Down”/“Step Aside”

The Suffers,

First of all: it’s about damn time. I know The Suffers haven’t been around that long, it’s true, but ever since I first ran across ’em in 2011, I’ve been dying to get my hands on an actual, decent-sounding release. Call me paranoid if you want, but for a while there, I was afraid the band would call it quits or something before the music actually saw the light of day — it’s happened before, alright?

But lo and behold, my prayers were answered, and here it is, still a little smoky from The Suffers’ hot-as-hell set at this year’s Summer Fest: the band’s debut 7″, in all its old-school rocksteady/soul majesty. I definitely had high hopes for whatever the band came up with, given their collective pedigree as essentially a Houston ska/reggae supergroup, but damn. They’ve blown any expectations I had right out of the park.

The A-side, “Slow It Down,” is probably my favorite of the two by a knife-thin margin, and that’s largely because it’s a showcase for frontwoman Kam Franklin’s sultry, husky voice; the woman’s one of the best damn singers I’ve heard in recent years, bringing to mind The Tontons’ Asli Omar and even the Queen herself, Aretha Franklin, in her delivery.

And as she floats and grooves along, the rest of the band gives the Dap-Kings a run for their money (or maybe The Adjusters, given the ska connection), crafting a warm, soulful sound that practically dares you not to smile. The song’s flat-out beautiful, a perfectly-done soul song that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place on Stax or Motown back in the day; it’s brimming over with hope that things’ll maybe, just maybe work out this time.

The Suffers drift southwards for B-side “Step Aside,” aiming for less of a soul sound and more of a straight-up rocksteady vibe, and they nail it awesomely there, as well. Organist/singer Patrick Kelly pleads and croons nicely while the band rumbles and bounces, bringing to mind Toots & The Maytals and more contemporary folks like Hepcat, Venice Shoreline Chris (who joined them onstage at Austin Reggae Fest back in April, I’m told), and The Pietasters (heck, the latter comparison fits with the A-side, too, come to think of it).

So, am I happy now? Well, listening to The Suffers, I feel like my day’s brightened up somehow, like everything I’m worrying about really isn’t that big a deal in the end, so I can just let it go. Hell, they’ve even managed to make the headache that’s plagued me the past 24 hours go away, at least temporarily. Beyond that, I just can’t stop smiling now, so I’d say the answer to whether I’m happy now that this band’s finally released their debut single would have to be, “hell, yes.” And now, I want more. Keep it coming, folks, please.

(Feature photo by Paty Lennon.)

[The Suffers are playing 6/20/13 at Discovery Green, along with Chase Hamblin and the Roustabouts.]
(self-released; The Suffers -- http://thesuffers.tumblr.com/; The Suffers (Facebook) -- https://www.facebook.com/thesuffers; The Suffers (Twitter) -- https://twitter.com/thesuffers)
BUY ME: Bandcamp

Review by . Review posted Thursday, June 20th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “The Suffers, “Slow It Down”/“Step Aside””

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: The Suffers + We Were Wolves + Co-Pilot + Boats N Hoes + More on June 30th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    […] Suffers/Alan Hampton/Michael Lassoff @ Khon’s Rooftop (2808 Milam; $5) I raved recently about The Suffers excellent new 7″, “Slow It Down”/”Step Aside,” and […]

  2. Jennifer on June 30th, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    You are soooooo right…Kam Franklin has a beautiful sultry voice! :)

  3. The Suffers on February 23rd, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Our next show is March 8th 2014 at 1836 Fest – A Celebration of Texas http://1836fest.com/ Noon to 10 at Cottonwood 3422 N. Shepherd Drive. Craft brews & bands. Can’t go wrong.

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