Featured Rock the Vote Artist
|1. Fair Game||The Like||Release Me||Rock||2:28|
|2. He's Not A Boy||The Like||Release Me||Rock||2:35|
|3. Release Me||The Like||Release Me||Rock||3:03|
After almost nine years as a band, one full-length LP, three EP’s and touring around the world, it’s insufficient to say that Los Angeles based quartet The Like have come into their own; listening to their new album, Release Me, it’s clear that they’ve become the band they’ve always wanted to be. Finding an exquisite balance between the 60’s girl group and British Invasion sounds they adore and a lyrical point of view that can only be described as impossibly modern, Release Me is the product of hard work, fortuitous new partnerships and great songs that reflect a long and winding period where the band has collectively been through it all and come out on the other side far stronger for the experience.
Produced by Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Robbie Williams) with additional production by Thomas Brenneck and Homer Steinweiss (of The Dap Kings), and Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Release Me crackles with girl- group sass and sincere desperation. Tracks like “He’s Not A Boy,” and “Don't Make a Sound” somehow find the place where the edge of the Animals and the heartbreak of the Shangri-Las meet and are infused with an edgy, clear-eyed romanticism that are irresistible.
Comprised of founding members Z Berg on lead vocals, guitar and main songwriting duties and drummer Tennessee Thomas, and new members Laena Geronimo on bass and Annie Monroe on organ, at the band’s core is the partnership between Z and Tennessee, who have been playing together since they formed the all-girl band at 15. “We never intended to be a girl band,” says Tennessee. “But we became rather pleased about it eventually,” she says with a laugh. Releasing three EP’s, which they sold at shows and at their website, the band quickly formed a rabid fan base and garnered immediate media coverage, which got them a record deal at Geffen Records. In 2005, they released Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking, and toured worldwide in support of the album, playing Coachella, the Wireless Festival, and opening for bands such as Muse, the Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon.
Following up their debut full-length is where is things got a bit mad. The band recorded a follow up in 2007, but it was clear that something wasn’t working, and shelved it. It was in that space of uncertainty that the band found some much- needed good fortune. Tennessee recalls, “When things were crazy with the band, I ran away to England for a week, and the first night I was there I ran into (producer) Mark Ronson. He said, “What’s happening, I’ve always loved your band.” We always thought he was out of our league, so we hadn’t bothered getting in touch with him. When we met up and I played him what I had, he said, “The band is great, the songs are great, but it's all wrong.” Then he offered, “I can do this.”
Recording with Ronson transformed the band. Z explains, “What Mark did was systematically take the songs right back to their original form. We spent almost 48 hours straight with Mark arranging the songs properly before we went into the studio, and then we recorded them live-to half-inch tape-with one mic on the drums - which is terrifying, but after recording that way, I truly believe there’s no other way to record.” Tennessee adds, “Before Mark, we recorded everything nitpicky and perfect, track by track. But on those great 60’s records, the mistakes were some of the best parts of it. It was chaos most of the time - but it absolutely brought us together as a band. We recorded for six days with Mark - and we got nine songs. Then we did four days with Alex Greenwald and the Dap-Kings. It was miraculous and we became far more confident as a band.”
You can hear that confidence in seemingly every note of Release Me. The first single and title track, “Release Me,” shimmers with a melody that’s like a glorious summer day, but the yearning of the lyric and the minor chords in the bridge create a mood of frustrated romanticism that, well, can’t help but remind one of the way John Lennon’s edge curbed Paul McCartney’s sunniness to make both far more resonant. “Narcissus In A Red Dress” throbs with a sense of warning and betrayal in the arena of love, a topic that Release Me deals with in full. “We all had our hearts broken while we were making this record,” says Tennessee, but somehow that heartbreak shimmers, as in the gorgeous “In The End,” where Tennessee’ s driving and propulsive beat and Z’s commanding yet elegant lead vocals (and gorgeous “oohs” and background vocals) create a three-minute slice of pop nirvana.
While Z and Tennessee are understandably thrilled with Release Me, they’re also ecstatic about the two newest members of the band, bassist Laena Geronimo and organist Annie Monroe. Monroe came to the band after Z and Tennessee had auditioned thirty other keyboard players. Z says, “The hilarious thing about Annie is that we went to school together for 2 years - and we didn’t know each other.” Laena came from a simple text message from a friend. Tennessee recalls, “We asked our friends, “Does anyone know an amazing bass player under 25,” and our friend Todd said, “You just need to meet Laena.” Z adds, “Laena heard a song once in rehearsal and played it back and we knew she was the one. She1s the most talented musician I know.”
The band is excited to finally get on the road. “We were home a lot the past few years,” says Z, “and I’m excited to get out there.” She continues with a grin, “We’re a very different kind of band now, and it’s a very different kind of show. One with infinitely more energy!”
Indeed, Release Me heralds the arrival of a stronger, tighter, and more enthused band, one with a stronger and deeper sense of who they are, all of which comes out in their undeniable new music. Z concludes, “At the end of the day, it’s like The Like broke up and The Like started. There’s no resemblance to the band that was before.” She adds devilishly, “I would change the name of the band if I didn’t like it so much.” And Tennessee has her own conclusion: “The fact that we’re still together after being through everything possible has only brought us much closer. Now we see the light at the end of the tunnel - and we’re wearing great outfits and beehives.”