Thanks to bands like the White Stripes, the Black Keys, and to some extent, Wolfmother, a resurgence in the raw, classic sound of early ’70s rock has been underway for several years now. I can only speculate that musicians – tiring of a general trend of overproduction resulting from the well-worn corporate success formula – opted to revert back to this bygone era of music. In the manner of a blue faced Jimmy Page churning out creepy riffs on his Fender Telecaster, these crusaders for what is right with rock ‘n’ roll have come to adopt this gritty style as their own.
In Ojai, five guys calling themselves Shades of Day got together to do the same thing in 2002, and have since recorded an album and played numerous shows all over the Western states. They play regularly at nearby venues, including the Wildcat Lounge and the Majestic Ventura Theater, and have opened for such acts as Blondie and Little Feat. Although the band hasn’t risen too far above regional popularity, this lack of fame belies the finely honed collaboration of talent between the band’s various members. From hard-driving guitar riffs and melodic ballads to the occasional cover, Shades of Day distinguish themselves not only with their technical mastery of the instruments they play, but with an exposure of their innermost selves during every song. Their reverence to the ’70s is apparent just from viewing the front page of the group’s Web site – which depicts an 8-track of the band’s album jammed in the faux wood grain dash of a GM behemoth – not to mention the two covers I’ve heard them play better than the original bands – Blue -yster Cult‘s “Godzilla” and the Band‘s “The Weight.”
The best parts of Shades’ Sandbar show came by way of their original tunes, which are raw, powerful, and well-executed. Lead singer Brendan James, who commands attention with clear, strong vocals, does not draw undue notice away from the other four members of the band, as is so often the case with powerful frontmen. The quintet functions in that vein of professional musical teamwork reminiscent of luminaries Led Zeppelin. Not too shabby for an up and coming act from our very own backyard.