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Arts + CultureMusicRocketship of revelry: 5 records that influenced Thee Sinseers

Rocketship of revelry: 5 records that influenced Thee Sinseers

Bandleader Joey Quiñones gives a lesson on rocksteady readiness on Noise Pop eve, from The Paragons to Operation Ivy.

The first track from the long-awaited debut LP from Thee Sinseers, “What’s His Name”, leads off with bandleader and vocalist Joey Quiñones asking his lady in song, by way of a piercing falsetto, “Baby baby/What are you trying to do to me?” What follows are trilling horns, the two-piece hitch of snare drum and bell, and background vocals of “hoo-hoo,” giving up all the colors of a first-class bad moon foreshadowed on the horizon.

Sinseerly Yours, the band’s debut record that is out in the world on March 22, released by Colemine Records, should take up prime ear drum real estate at any of the numerous oldies nights wherein attendees dance with somebody familiar, or some stranger, to those sad bangers, those relatable stories, coming from the turntables.

Thee Sinseers are going to play those love songs when they perform on Sun/3 at Bottom of The Hill as part of Noise Pop. Grab tickets here for what are sure to be Sad. Love. Songs.

It’s what they do best. Hey, despair is the most relatable of all topics. Or rather, feeling, one that cuts across demographics, race, class, gender—everybody has been bit or tripped up by the love bug. It’s the thing that makes us all human. It shows how the same blood runs through everybody’s veins. We have far more in common than we think. It’s the construction of these tales of heartbreak that has led some of the best musicians to construct unexpected masterpieces.

The Sinseers at the Uptown, Jan.26. Photo by D.A. Mission

This cavernous tent most certainly contains rocksteady, and early rock ‘n’ roll from Ritchie Valens, Little Richard, and Ray Charles. That’s how Quiñones hears and plays it.

“It really fascinated me that these guys were there, sitting with these ideas and these concepts in their mind—not just lyrics and guitar-playing, but the whole orchestra with a horn section, the vocals, and all the layering,” Quiñones told KCRW last year.

“That’s just how I heard music in my head, since being in marching band and loving the whole group orchestra kind of sound and the different layers and the different instruments.”

Sinseerly Yours, recorded live in a converted studio space in Rialto, California in a space known as Second Hand Sounds, features Quinones on vocals and keys, vocalist Adriana Flores, Christopher Manjarrez on bass, Francisco Floreson on guitar, Bryan Ponce on guitar and vocals, Luis Carpio on drums and vocals, saxophonists Eric Johnson and Steve Surman, and Jose Luis Jimenez on trombone.

We are thankful Quiñones took the time from a very busy schedule to give us some of his top record influences. Here they are — join us in examining the roots of his burgeoning band.

THE PARAGONS, ON THE BEACH

An influential ska and rocksteady vocal group from Kingston, Jamaica, who wrote a little song called “The Tide Is High” that Blondie would cover in 1980.

LEE MORGAN, THE SIDEWINDER

Landmark soul-jazz from 1963 by trumpeter Lee Morgan that crossed over to the pop charts.

OTIS REDDING, LIVE AT THE WHISKEY A GO GO

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than Otis Redding ripping through James Brown, Rolling Stones, and Beatles covers with his own adjustments. If Hendrix remade Bob Dylan songs, Otis put his entire foot in the Beatles catalog — so hard that John, Paul, George, and Ringo collectively could not match. This “Hard Days Night” hits differently.

THEE MIDNITERS, WHITTIER BLVD

A rocketship of revelry. Garage rock, accents of “zoot-suited pachuco soul” with classic R&B, this release shows why Thee Midniters are noted as the best Latino rock and roll outfit of the ’60s. But I’d bet if we rebuilt all the metrics, they’d be one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands of the 60’s, period. This is a brown-skinned band who followed UK bands of the day and added horns, congas, and timbales — essentially soul, y’all — to stiff, white-man overbite, outlines.

Midniters can play anything they want, and damn good at that. The vibe on the killer groove of “Empty Heart” dips in and out of go-go territory, and then drops some fierce organ solo, going into surf-guitar arrangements with boss sauce East Los Angelino mariachi horns, blowing you away with the truth.

Rock ‘n’ roll owes them a check.

OPERATION IVY, ENERGY

Punk. Hardcore. Two-step rhythms. A combo so lethal that many tried to replicate it, and failed miserably. A rebellious hybrid, so explosive that the band stayed together for only two years. But their influence shall live on forever.

Get some.

THEE SINSEERS feat. James Wavey, Peña, and Tylawave. Sun/3, 2:30pm. Bottom of the Hill. Tickets and more info here.

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John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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