Patrick Judy, Crumb (2017)

The Dangers, "Land Of Opportunity"

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I have listened to 'Land of Opportunity' at least a dozen times and I have really enjoyed it. This is a very different Dangers album in that it is a concept album that shines a light on the current political climate in America. I have seen religious and spiritual references in Dangers albums before, but not political ones. The big thing that it has in common with your previous albums is the varying styles of music. It was a fun challenge to write about because I wanted to express what I thought the songs meant and not just talk about the vocals and instruments like I have normally done. Some of my interpretations may be way off, but I hope I got some right. Anyway, here are my thoughts on 'Land of Opportunity'.

"The Opportunity" (A nice rocking opener. Very nice guitar solo and keys. I really like the solo. The meaning I took from this is that the land or country is changing in negative ways that are in conflict with the narrator. It is trying to change or bend him to its will, but he is too strong for that. He has his principals and morality and he is going to stick to them. His heart will remain his.)

"Satisfied" (I really like the harmonies on this love song. KimberLee Mihalski is a great addition to The Dangers' family of musicians. I believe this is about lost love due to one passing on. One is above and one is here (alive) and each are wondering about and missing each other. They will not be happy until they are reunited. It sounds like they will be glad when the world end so they can be reunited. I get this from the lines, "I'm satisfied when the stars Come tumbling down, down. I'm satisifed when heaven come and touch the ground." Of course, I could be way off. It could simply be talking about two lovers who will be reunited in the morning after overnight flight.)

"Live A Lifetime" (I like the bongos and minimal use of instruments in this somber song. Something tragic has happened. Everything is abandoned, leaflets fall from the sky. Maybe we are focusing on another country where an invasion has taken place or it could be a remote town in our own. Questions are asked. Do you want to give up something like your belongings, principles or way of life? or Do you want to fight, living life true to yourself and die? Dying in this case would be "living a lifetime".)

"Walk That Line" (A rockin', tragic song. The guitars and drums and Chris' lyrics take center stage in this one. It sounds like it is about a raid on a house where immigrants live. Blazing lights, dogs and possibly guns are brought into the home in which mothers and their children live. Excessive force is used but a distraction is created to keep the public's attention focused elsewhere.)

"Grenade" (A great, gritty sounding blues number. I really love Bill Barrett's harmonica on this. Every instrument really shines. We have a politician with a dangerously short fuse/temper (grenade) that could get us into all killed by starting a major war. They are trying to hide this fact from the 50 men (states) so they can be elected. After he is elected, those responsible with have to live with the consequences. The night turning to day could be a nuclear explosion or simply just staying up all night to see the election results.)

"Last Three Songs" (I like the vocal harmonies in this one. The narrator is living in a world where those who supported the elected official in "The Grenade" are everywhere. They are blinded or do not care (mannequins) what he is doing. The field with no bluebirds could mean pollution. The narrator is writing 3 songs. One is the past during happier times. The next one is in the present during dark times. The last one is when people rise up and take the country back (a new election?) which will bring back happier times. It is unclear if the narrator is a fugitive because he says, "If I keep moving I will stay alive.".)

"Pick It Up" (A nice rocking anthem. I like the use of different singers for the different parts. Some people are starting to unite and march against "the grenade". They are trying to encourage others who are just sitting back to join them instead of just talking a "good line". They also encourage you to pick up your fellow man who has been knocked down.)

"Turn Around" (I really like Kimberlee's vocals and Chris' backing vocals on this. The elected official from "The Grenade" is causing many problems. He is either going for the the highest office in the land or is already there seeking reelection. I am thinking it is the latter because it is asked, Who would let a monster into this house again?". The answer is for those who voted for him to look at themselves and others that did the same.)

"California, How I Love You" (I like how the vocals take the center stage and the instruments are played softly. This is a tribute to California and how many arrived there in many ways. People are just trying to live. There is no evil doing going on. Money is also not so important. Birmingham is also mentioned. I am assuming it is a shoutout to "Sweet Home Alabama"'s line, "Where the skies are so blue". I believe it is saying that California has blue skies too, and to put our differences aside and all work together as one country.)

"Rapping Telephone Line" (I really like the keys and drums on this one. I think this is about connecting with people by asking them to get together and make positive change. Thanks will get better with their combined hearts and minds.)

"Grenade (slight Return)" (A nice bluesy reprise of "The Grenade Song". I really love this song. Again, everyone really shines. Chris' "We're done." really fits as a conclusion to another great album.)

Those are my thoughts on 'Land of Opportunity' which I found to be a very enjoyable album. I am looking forward to see what comes next.

 

The Press-Enterprise: 2013 Greatest Hits by Vanessa Franko

The Dangers, "Gold!"

Forget Arcade Fire and Daft Punk, The Dangers made the album of the year.  With perfect melodies, this is power pop at its finest a la Big Star or The Beatles.  The eclectic AM radio vibe makes it a fun discovery from track to track from Chris LeRoy and friends.  The album moves with ease from a Sergio Mendes + Brasil '66-inspired bossa nova to telling the story of what happened after The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset."  The last four songs get psychedelic and fit together like side two of "Abbey Road," closing with the powerhouse vocal from Lisa Kekaula on "My Someday."

 

REDLANDS: The Dangers play Hangar 24, strike ‘Gold’

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BY VANESSA FRANKO

 STAFF WRITER    vfranko@pe.com

Most bands that are three decades into the game rely on trotting out their beloved material and are stagnant when it comes to new music.

However, after forming 35 years ago, The Dangers are in no danger of going that route, releasing a new album, “Gold!!” that is arguably the band’s best yet.

While it’s full of new material, the beauty of “Gold!!” comes in part from its nods to the past.  The collection is inspired by the eclectic mix that The Dangers’ chief songwriter Chris LeRoy would hear flipping back and forth between two AM radio stations when he was growing up in Redlands.  “The album is a little bit like a radio station,” LeRoy said.  The Dangers will be playing selections from the record at Hangar 24 Brewery on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The depth and variety of the record can be attributed in part to the band’s newest members.  LeRoy, who also sings, plays guitar and keyboards, singer and guitarist Bob Vennum, bassist and singer Tim Loughlin and drummer Brad Vaughn have been joined by two new members—guitarist Mike Geoghegan of The Sedans and vocalist Lisa Kekaula, of The BellRays, Lisa and the Lips and Bob and Lisa.  “I can’t even imagine trying to go back and be this four piece band,” LeRoy said.

The expanded lineup debuted at a show in North Carolina’s Outer Banks in the spring. That show cemented the direction of The Dangers.  The new chemistry forced LeRoy to open up and consider a different take on the songs he had written and collaborate with the other members of the group.  Loughlin takes the lead vocal on the California country-rock tinged “Flowers and Trees,” a song inspired by a couple who got married after the husband had a heart attack.

The album was going to be called “Peace, Love and Psychedelia” until Kekaula had the idea for “Gold!!” as the recordings were about to be sent out for mastering and the artwork was finished.  But at the core, it’s The Dangers’ songwriting that makes the music so powerful and the songs dictated the production.  “Let’s play the songs the way they’re written and the way they’re meant to be,” LeRoy said.

Yes, the influence of The Kinks and The Beatles runs as strong as ever through the band’s power pop gems, (in fact, “Waterloo Evening” is a follow up with a twist to The Kinks’ classic “Waterloo Sunset”), but it’s the new directions The Dangers take that strike gold.  “I can’t find the full expression of my music without an incredible band,” LeRoy said.  The bossa nova “Everybody In” taps into the spirit Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 -inspired and the rock ‘n’ roll rambler “Mary Anne” has a Memphis/Sun Studios vibe.

The album’s peak is the slow-building ballad “My Someday,” a goosebump-inducing album closer.  “My Someday” was a song LeRoy had kicked around from a couple of years ago, but the vocal wasn’t right until he thought to pair it with Kekaula’s voice.  She recorded it after she and Vennum had toured with The BellRays in Australia and she was struggling to regain her voice after losing it. That fragile, vulnerable vocal Kekaula did on the first take is where the song derives its power.

That vocal and arrangement is a testament to the power of The Dangers that already has the group working on material for the next album.  “This is the best version of the band,” LeRoy said.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, Hangar 24 Brewery Tasting Room, 1710 Sessums Drive, Redlands, free.


REDLANDS: The Dangers rock at Hangar 24

BY VANESSA FRANKO

 STAFF WRITER    vfranko@pe.com

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For The Dangers’ stellar 2010 record “A Little Bit of Light,” frontman Chris LeRoy and guitarist Bob Vennum put their spin on a rock eruption with folk tinges akin to “Led Zeppelin III,” which resulted in a burst of brilliant power pop. 

On the Redlands-based band’s new release, “Embrace the Light Outside,” sunshine pours into a set of well-crafted songs that make the band grow taller without being totally plugged in.  “Some of the new songs on here seem to be kind of a different tone and territory, a little more acoustic,” LeRoy said.
The band will be performing the songs at a special show at Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The record was made as LeRoy started work on the songs back home in Redlands and sent them to Vennum, who was on tour in Europe with The BellRays and Bob and Lisa.  Bassist Tim Loughlin and drummer Brad Vaughn are both back for the album as well.  As LeRoy and Vennum wrote notes to each other about the songs, they decided to go to the band that’s a firm part of the songwriters’ roots: The Beatles.

“They did a lot of really cool, hard-rocking stuff that was just acoustic and then they’d put a little electric guitar and vocals on it. You don’t really hear a lot of that that isn’t the Dave Matthews kind of thing anymore,” Vennum said. It was nice to get back to chord-driven stuff where the main rhythm instrument was the acoustic guitar.”  That approach shines bright on “Hello Day Sleeper,” an acoustic-driven song with an infectious melody.

“When you’re doing power pop, if you’re just worried about having this modern thing, where it’s gotta sound like the Foo Fighters, you’re cutting off a whole collection of tools that you could use,” Vennum said.

“Embrace the Light Outside” also features Spiro Nicolopoulos and Nicole Pond of Devore Americana-influenced combo The Paper Crowns and longtime Dangers friends Ralph Torres and Mike Geoghegan of Riverside new wave rockers The Sedans.

The Paper Crowns appeared on “Now,” the final song of the record.  “That’s such a beautiful, honest sound to their vocals,” LeRoy said. “It dawned on me that the songs were much more related than I thought. It’s a set of love songs.”

The opening track, “There’s a River, Sweet Virginia,” is the story of the journey of Adam and Eve after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.  “The whole album is a little bit like this—these two people and their love story, good and bad…there’s some melancholy all the way through it,” LeRoy said.

The song “The Bell” was inspired by the book of the same title by Iris Murdoch.  “It’s music that’s not afraid,” LeRoy said.


The Dangers are currently working on the follow-up to “Embrace the Light Outside.”

Published: 15 November 2012 10:23 PM


EMBRACE THE LIGHT CONVERSATION WITH MORST on FACEBOOK:

Chris LeRoy I liked your insight about the Dangers OCHO show, completing one history to move to another.

Acffh Morst Yeah, I feel that's the case on the albums too. Your first two discs were consciously completing the work that Bob K left. Little Bit Of Light is the first greens of spring poking through the snow of history. On the new songs, I really feel that the new pure Dangers have come together and found a sound that works. Hearing the new tunes live for the first time was really kick-ass. They sound more mature than previous works did at this age. And I mean musically mature, not emotionally, you haven't lost the playful spirit!


Vanessa Franko's Best of 2010:
THE DANGERS  
“A Little Bit of Light”

Transient

Hats off to The Dangers (Chris LeRoy, Bob Vennum, Brad Vaughn and Tim Loughlin) for putting out the best power pop record of 2010.

“A Little Bit of Light” is gem after gem — songs you can sing along to before each track ends. The music falls somewhere between The Replacements and the Velvet Underground with splashes of Big Star and Tom Petty.
Some of the key tracks include “Glitter Girl,” “Darkman” and “Comes the Morning.”


Some local Dangers shows are in the works starting in February 2011, and the band in January starts recording its fourth album in as many years for a September 2011 release.

The Dangers' bassist Tim Loughlin and guitarist/singer Chris LeRoy

The Dangers' bassist Tim Loughlin and guitarist/singer Chris LeRoy

“A Little Bit of Light” was produced by Vennum, who has another big release due out in 2011 when his band The BellRays releases “Black Lightning” stateside.


The Dangers - Rocking songscripting from the Cracker family

Transient

The Dangers didn't release albums back then, but Dedication saw some of those old (and some new) recordings finally released a couple of years ago.  This new album, without Johnny except for one guest role, is more rocking and coherent than Dedication, and is really more of a follow up to 2007's 'Life's So Hard Make It Softer' by Chris LeRoy's other band Death Of Me.  Both albums rock with a youthful rawness that belies the 30-year history of this band, sounding at times like the Stones - a band that seems to run through LeRoy's veins.

Mungo, The Van

Chris LeRoy and Johnny Hickman were The Dangers way back before Johnny went on to play guitar in The Unforgiven and then co-form Cracker, with whom he still performs today. 

Johnny Hickman and Chris LeRoy.  Photo courtesy of Arie Haze.

Johnny Hickman and Chris LeRoy.  Photo courtesy of Arie Haze.