Band of the Day

2012.09.13

Chantal Claret

A rocker lends her unique, fiery flair to classic soul
Got six friends, and they know your name. And my six friends, all waiting to take aim.
lyrics from Pop Pop Bang Bang

Northern California native singer-songwriter Chantal Claret also grew up in New York, where she’d snuck into mod clubs in her early teen years for the retro bluesy tunes that now influence her music career. Prior to her solo journey, Claret teamed up with bassist Pedro Yanowitz, and the duo, along with drummer John Paul Kennon O and guitarist Richard Steel, performed as the high-energy Morningwood, signing to Capitol Records and releasing their 2006 debut that had the band soaring. Morningwood released their 2009 sophomore record and completed their final tour in March 2012. The 30-year-old chanteuse’s didn’t stop there, her path merely diverging towards the debut of “Pop Pop Bang Bang and the subsequent release of her solo EP, The Pleasure Seeker, in April 2012 through The End Records. Claret recently followed up with her full-length The One, The Only… in June 2012.

You may remember Chantal Claret as the lead singer of mid 2000s New York pop rock band Morningwood. Dishing out hedonistic tunes over the course of a couple of albums, she reveled in retro rock, recalling stars like the Pretenders. Now a solo artist, Claret is reaching back even further to 60s and 70s soul and Motown, and this sound suits her even better. Like Amy Winehouse, Claret isn't interested in exactly replicating the sounds of Motown and soul, she uses those sounds as a springboard for a contemporary take, spicing things up with more modern rock and pop.

Claret is not into subtlety. Her songs are big, roaring out of the gate and grabbing attention. They come packed with rocking drums, backup singers, horn sections, and Claret's knock-you-on-your-ass vocals. “Pop Pop Bang Bang” starts like a funky nursery rhyme with its supercharged, clap filled drum beat. Bursting into a chorus of “pop pop bang bang / shoulda heard me when I said / it goes click click / boom boom” as a riotous party of guitar and piano join in. It's purposely child-like, but in a chaotically fun kind of way.

“Bite Your Tongue” is a the best marriage of her post-punk past and soul present on the album. It's essentially a face paced soul track, but with rock and roll ferocity. Fire creeps into Chantal's vocal chords as she sings lines like “bite your tongue/save yourself/just keep on walking.” This is the track where fireworks shoot out and a cloud of confetti rains down on the crowd.

On other tracks Chantal explores more classic soul-pop territory, trading the aggression for sexy smoothness. “This Time,” is a pretty flawless pop nugget that slides out of the speakers while “Honey Honey” is even poppier, going for girl group sweetness (though maybe ending up a bit too sweet for some).

Reinventing yourself is tough, but Claret seems to have grown into her style, pulling off the classic soul sound with her own intense flair.