CD Review: The Innocent Bystanders “Attractive Nuisance”

Take influences such as the style of Jackie Wilson, the sound of the sax player from Buck-O-Nine, Wild-&-Innocent-era Bruce Springsteen, a little Grace Slick, some Phil Spector influence and blend everything together. What you end up with is the base for a band from San Diego that calls itself The Innocent Bystanders.

The band consists of Steve Berenson – drums & percussion, Jessica LaFave – tenor saxophone, Ben Nieberg – acoustic guitar & lead & background vocals, Kath Rogers – lead & background vocals, Donny Samporna – electric 5-string bass, Steve Semeraro – electric 6 & 12 string guitars & vocal on Working Man’s Daughter and Kaimi Wenger – electric piano & Hammond B3. Together, the band combines various influences to create a sound that is all-inclusive and varied which gives the music an ever-changing feel.

With the size of the ensemble being what it is, it’s easy to understand just how it is that the band’s sound and style could contain that many influences weaving throughout it. The reason for the wide array of influences comes from the fact that the various members of the band come from different time periods, meaning they all grew up in different eras of music. And the musical influences from those time periods seeped into the feel of both the lyrics and music, helping to create a style which can only be described as timeless.

The Innocent Bystanders formed mostly as a live band, to play out in live settings. But recently, the ensemble walked into a recording studio where several songs written earlier in the lives of several of the band members were finally given the respect they deserved. These four songs now form the first EP to come from the band. The release from The Innocent Bystanders is entitled Attractive Nuisance.

Attractive Nuisance from The Innocent Bystanders begins with the track “Gotta Get Outta Here”. As the song begins, you can hear all of the various elements that the band admits to having as influences. The lead-off track begins with the sound of Kaimi Wenger’s Hammond B-3 and other instrumentation that gives a slight hint at a Ska feel to the music before that Ska feeling is swallowed up by other influences that help to create a Rock and Roll feeling to the music. Because of the initial Ska influence, the musical blend on the track helps to create a rather full-bodied feel to the music as various influences all float within the music that makes up “Gotta Get Outta Here”. The track blends together rather obvious musical influences such as Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen & the E. Street Band. And from the very first track of the EP, The Innocent Bystanders prove they have a lot of different influences that make up their music.

The Innocent Bystanders continue their new EP with the track “Highways”. The song begins with a strong bassline from Donny Samporna before the rest of the band joins in on a song that blends together influences from the mid-fifties with more recent influences. The result is a track that has a dual feel at the same exact time: The track contains a definite Retro feel as the fifties influence mixes together with a style that would be more eighties-based. The track of “Highways” features the vocals of Kath Rogers and the saxophone playing from Jessica LaFave who are truly the standout musicians of the band on this track. The song of “Highways” is a quick-moving track that also contains a beat strong enough to get up and dance to.

With the next track, Donny Samporna once again stands out as he begins this track with yet another strong bassline, just like he did for the song “Highways”. The track “Emerald Eyes” features a straight-out Rock and Roll feel to the music. The track revolves around the sound of the piano with the help of Samporna’s bass as well as Jessica LaFave’s saxophone and the vocals from Kath Rogers. Together, the entire ensemble creates a track that, once again, has a sound and style that feels as if it would belong with songs in the eighties.

The four-song EP entitled Attractive Nuisance from The Innocent Bystanders comes to an end with the track “Working Man’s Daughter”. The energy level is brought down quite a bit with a much softer approach to the band’s sound on this track. That being said, The Innocent Bystanders create a track that contains a stronger orchestral feel than previous tracks. The reason for that orchestral influence comes from the combination of both the piano and the organ. The inclusion of the saxophone also gives the track a rather retro feel to it. The result is a song that feels as if it should have been created by the likes of someone like Billy Joel back in the seventies as it has that type of vibe to it; especially given how mellow the feel of the overall track is. For someone looking for the definite feel of AM radio from back in the seventies, “Working Man’s Daughter” is one track that would absolutely fill that desire.

Taking a listen to the four tracks that make up the Attractive Nuisance release from The Innocent Bystanders, it seems only natural that this release came to be the way it did. As the band itself is mainly a cover group making a living playing cover songs in live settings, the band members each bring different musical influences into the group’s musical makeup. That makeup of different influences ultimately helps to shape the songs that have been written at different times by different members in the group. The blend of different writers matched up with band members with different musical backgrounds that are rather varied by the different age ranges makes for a release that could only be this varied by nature. And while there are many elements shaping the band’s songs, those elements still come together to form an EP that is a lot of fun to listen to.

To check out the music from The Innocent Bystanders, check out the official video to the band’s song “Emerald Eyes“.

The band is also currently promoting their version of the song from the band The Zutons called “Valerie,” a song that has recently been covered by the likes of both Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse. 

For more information, check out The Innocent Bystanders’ PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company. 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase a copy of the Attractive Nuisance EP from The Innocent Bystanders, click on the album cover below: