The Berries is a band from South Carolina consisting of Joseph Schroer (vocals, keys), Justin Smith (vocals, bass), Lex Martin (guitar), Larry Ellis (vocals, guitars, harmonica) and Warren Moore (vocals and drums) who recently released a full-length self-titled album The Berries. From what I understand a couple of the members, if not all of them, either graduated or work at Newberry College. The second somewhat entertaining fact about the band is that the members in the band range from 24-years-old to 67-years-old. Despite their age differences they came together on one commonality, “to instill the spirit of 1966 in your head.” In their own words the band is “a little surf, a little fuzz, a little psych, a little Merseybeat... and a whole lot of garage.” I would agree with their own assessment but it’s all about the delivery. So does The Berries self-titled really instill the spirit of 1966?
If I had to give a one-word answer I would say “yes.” In reality they do a decent job but the album is far from perfect in a number of areas. The album is a mixed bag of songs. Some of it works really well and some of it needs a bit of tweaking.
The album starts with “Lady Macbeth,” which is founded on punk and garage. It revolves around crunchy power chords, strained vocal delivery and a consistent steady drumbeat. The background vocals were a nice component to the music, which added a bit of magic to the song.
“Hurricane Beach” as it name implies is a surf song. The drummer and guitarist lock together to create a groove that shouldn't sound unfamiliar to fans of surf rock. I have to say that for the music they were playing the energy sounded surprisingly vacant. I can’t pinpoint it to one thing but the energy level during the verse needed to be more apparent.
“Little Miata” is a clear highlight that displays the band at their finest. The band experiments with Beach Boy style vocal harmonies that bring the song to life. I wish the band implemented more vocal harmonies like this throughout the album because it seemed to me to be their biggest strength.
As the album progresses there are a number of other highlights including “Surfer’s Moon” and closer “All About You.” “All About You” is an upbeat ending that felt overly optimistic like something you would hear from The Monkees. I say that in a good way.
The Berries has its faults but overall is an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. Fourteen songs deep it takes a little bit of time and effort but never feels exhausting.
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