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’

The Dangers band 2013.JPG

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

The Dangers 2012.JPG

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.