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June 27, 2013

Do you like this?

Local band conjures comparisons to some of the greats

Fourteen years ago, I was given the opportunity to write about local artists and musicians.  The job was pretty straightforward:  Listen to the band, see them live, talk to them about their music and then boil it all down in to a “tell all the people” article. What struck me most back then was how much unsung talent there was in Chattanooga—national-touring caliber performers who, for whatever reason, were not very well known here in their hometown. 

Fourteen years later...if anything has changed, it is that our local music scene has grown into a  much more robust community than in the old days, and the need to spotlight local talent is greater than ever. Which brings us to Endelouz.

Nuts-and-bolts-wise, Endelouz is Jack Kirton, Joseph Berkley, Dennis Hubbard and Chris Reich.   Joey and Dennis are alumni of the iconic All Things Green, and first crossed paths with their current band mates during the après-Green project North American Royalty. Each incarnation of the band has had its distinct voice, direction, and always, a well-respected sense of musicality and taste.  

Endelouz is self-described as “alt-country,” which may be the case, but if so, then it is alt-country in the same way that the ’70s-era Rolling Stones were alt-country, a comparison I will be making again.  If anything, Endelouz is very well-polished roots rock with a solid R&B backbone and country overtones, an assessment borne out by their EP “Don’t Lose Your Heart Out There.”

The music is definitely “of an era," but unassumingly so. They aren’t emulating anyone; they are wholly unique and original.  As a rule, I despise making comparisons between bands. It’s like a shortcut to actually thinking about the music, but in this case it seems unavoidable. The song arrangements and instrumentation really are reminiscent of the Rolling Stones at the top of their game. That’s a bold claim to make, I know, but I challenge anyone to listen to track two, “Undiscovering America” and say otherwise.

Lyrically, Endoulez is nicely cerebral; there are layers here and with good reason. According to Kirton, the band lyricist, he wanted to write about the darker aspects of being a performer, yet still wanted an album his mom could listen to. And so what we have are very clever lyrics that are at times double-entendres, at other times oblique references and metaphors, and yet this is all pulled off without an ounce of pretentiousness. The lyrics aren’t trying to sound clever, the lyrics ARE clever, and the result is a little something extra for the discerning listener. The beauty of it is that you don’t have to “get it” to enjoy some excellent rock and roll music. You can take it at face value, or you can dig a little deeper. In either case it is a pleasure to hear.  

As the band’s vocalist, Kirtan has a style that is simple and honest—plaintive, almost. He’s not merely singing songs; he means every word of what he’s singing, a kind of sincerity and intensity that comes from a man who has lived the life and walked the walk. There is no artifice here. This music is as real as it gets. Again, I don’t care to compare one performer to another but on certain tracks (“Beautiful Junkie” is a stand out and my personal favorite), one could easily mistake Jack Kirton for a young Elvis Costello.

So that’s Endelouz, a group of very talented and well-seasoned musicians making some of the purest, homegrown rock and roll to be found. Now, where to find them?  Upcoming gigs include an appearance at the Moccasin Bend Brewing Company on July 13, Lindsay Street  Performance Hall on August 9, and an appearance at the Chattanooga Habitat for Humanity Mud Run at Greenway Farm August 17.

The best news is that the boys are currently in production of a new album, “How Do You Say Endelouz?”  It’s part of a larger interactive package that will include new songs, alternate versions of older tracks, live cuts, artwork and a 30-minute documentary about the band by Larry Denim, director of Lindsay Street Hall Presents. The new project is scheduled for release in September “around the equinox.”  In the meantime, you can sample their work, including the tracks mentioned here, at reverbnation.com/endelouz

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June 27, 2013

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