REDLANDS: The Dangers play Hangar 24, strike ‘Gold’
BY VANESSA FRANKO
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.