With the title of Orange County’s Best Rock Band under their belt from this year’s OC Music Awards, a new partnership with the renowned management group Secret Chief, and a highly anticipated brand new album entitled “The Winter Tick” being whispered about through the networks of facebook and Orange County, Jeramiah Red have never been more prepared for the next natural step in their musical careers. After riding the waves of their most recent acclaimed EP, “Ghost Tracks from the Getty,” for the last 2 years, the band has slowly been introducing new material into their set over the last year. This new material has marked a change for the band not only regarding the songs they play, but how they are performed as well. As their new music suggests, the songs and band are taking a more serious approach to all they do including, but not limited to, song writing, stage presence, and overall band performance. This new approach is separating this crew of moose-branded-misfits from a beloved local talent, to a, “I knew them when…” hit, that the local scene wouldn’t be surprised to hear on the radio in the near future. In fact, locals are beginning to expect it.
This article will cover the move of the band into their new attitude through a comparison of a show I saw of theirs last year with their set last Thursday at the House of Blues, Anaheim. The House of Blues show acted as a reintroduction to the Jeramiah Red that I thought I knew; and, if it is not obvious, I mean this in only the most positive of definitions. The show reminded me of the reasons that I liked, listened to, and followed the band in the first place; however, the power they yielded on my most recent attendance was amplified exponentially. The group has so obviously learned to capitalize on what they do best and have introduced new and exciting ideas which are more cohesively projected through the now reinvented icon (moose head) that is; Jeramiah Red.
To begin, J-Red was instantly likeable when I dropped in on my first show over a year ago. The songs had great hooks, the band had 2 strong front men, sick solos, dirty riffs, and a deep understanding and passion for blues, rock, folk, and Americana. In a few words: They kicked ass, man. Jumping around, nailing every big note, dominating solos, and working the crowd. It was a freaking party and their music reflected this mentality. So, to sum up ‘old’ Jeramiah Red I would say: they were great, but they were missing a shred of something else that would take them to the next level. They held a passion for all things rock n’ roll, blues, and folk, and their music tipped a hat to these genres and these genres alone.
Recently however, Jeramiah Red has broken the boundaries that defined their sound by producing material with a broader musical range. They have branched from a standard southern rock band and have developed a voice and sound that is uniquely their own mixing all of the aforementioned genres with notes of indie, pop, and other far-reaching areas of rock. In the past year they have challenged themselves creatively and, with it, have also challenged their audience with new sounding material. The new Jeramiah Red is a metal-plated steam engine that runs off of unicorn tears and cheetah’s blood. Their directed new approach is what is going to take the band to the heights that they want to achieve and wielding a stellar line up of new and old material, the band is unstoppable and the fans couldn’t be more enthusiastic about everything they are doing. This couldn’t have been more apparent than from the show at the House of Blues last Thursday (4/11/13).
The House of Blues was on fire last Thursday night. It was one of the strongest lineups of music the scene has been humbled to showcase (complete with Jason Feddy, Moonsville Collective, and Micah Brown) in recent months and yet, Jeramiah Red was still the most suitable closer and most memorable act of the evening. Their energy was electric, the group was well rehearsed, and the openers did one hell of a job to keep the evening together and warm up the crowd properly for the climax of J-Red magnificence (shout out to Secret Chief for putting together a killer set up of bands.).
Dressed in their finest vests and ties, Jeramiah Red not only looked sharp, they looked like a band. A together, cohesive, serious, straight-shooting band. There were two things they sought after on this night: to kick ass and take names. They rampaged through their set in a perfectly planned way utilizing fine placement of slow and fast songs and great combination of new and old. One of the main distinctions however from the ‘old,’ to the ‘new,’ that was so apparent at this show was the lack of breaks between songs. There was a clear direction and maintenance of the set that was strategically planned and enormously effective. Their set was still a party, but it was more organized and methodical. Further, the overall sound from the stage was beyond exceptional. Whether it was the use of their new equipment sponsored by Quilter Labs, the zero-bull-shit attitude present on stage or a refinement on workable attributes, this was bar non the strongest show I have seen the band play to date.
A few things to touch on here: in the past, front man and rhythm guitarist Wes Dickson generally took the role of lead vocalist. I never felt that the band was TRULY dual fronted. They wielded 2 strong singers but with my history with the band, Wes has always had the bigger voice, wider range, and strongest delivery. Not saying front man and lead guitarist Ian Cullen was a sham, but Wes had the more controlled voice. Now here is my point: Ian stepped it up and destroyed each of his vocal parts in the set. He actually started the night off as lead vocalist and straight up dominated the section with his sensational tar-coated throat.
Ian was always known by this critic as one of the strongest lead guitarists in the area with impeccable rhythm and a phenomenal ear for melody. Their show didn’t yield any different results however, he became more than that on Thursday. He became a front man. Judging by their rampage at the House of Blues, the band is truly dual fronted and his bold new presence has become a critical asset.
We can’t however talk about Ian and not talk about Wes. Wes freaking killed it. I didn’t think it was possible due to the range of notes he hits in a regular set, but he even moved out of his comfort zone as well in terms of range and ability and the most impressive feat of the evening in his world was mid set in one of the new songs by the band. I didn’t catch the name of it, but it was this number that affirmed the fact that I was looking at a new band with some outrageous new capabilities. It began with percussionist and harp expert, Travis Ruiz on the harmonica belting away a few sorrowful notes on the metal instrument eerily reminiscent of a train coming to our world from the other side. What began as a chill that would run laps up and down my spine turned into an aggressive slap across the face as the band crashed in and a melody was formed from the eerie harp with Wes Dickson leading a haunting melody at the top of his range. This was the most unique piece of music the band has produced, and a new all-time favorite. It was an impressive feature, one that showcased a lot of reserve on the band’s part (something that isn’t new, but rather capitalized on) and an expansion on the already impressive vocal talent of their Robert Plant reincarnate.
Jeramiah Red’s rhythm section was tighter than ever with Matt Pleskacz on drums, Travis Ruiz on harp and percussion, and Tim Miller on the Bass. The rhythm section did an incredible job nailing it all down and, in true J-Red fashion, these guys performed the hell out of the set.
The group killed it. As mentioned, they have always been good; but last Thursday they were exceptional. They added new moments to some already existing favorites that caused consistent uproars from the crowd. The riffs they write are becoming dirtier and more aggressive, each member is just dominating at their roll in the band, and the group functions masterfully as a unit; all the while, still making sure they throw a party for themselves and the fans. Jeramiah Red even came out for an encore in true rock star fashion, finishing the evening strong with the crowd begging for more and me throwing away my now dirty underwear.
All in all I couldn’t be more excited for what is going to come from the moose heads of Jeramiah Red. Their new single (released a day before the show) is a clear depiction that they have a strong grasp of remaining true to their roots, yet have such an enormous potential for mainstream success. Their new single, “Pardon Me,” wields the highest potential to break the surface into the radio airwaves. The crew has a definite mastery of what they do, and keen perspective on mainstream trends. This is a deadly combination to be reckoned with! It is only a matter of time until these guys are going to get their just rewards for the hard work and commitment they attach to their music. I hope them the best of luck and on behalf of myself, the unEARTH Music Hub and the rest of Orange County: Release the album, make us proud, and give ‘em hell!
Thanks for the music,