I always love seeing the ways in which rock and roll influences people in often unexpected circumstances. Nothing more appropriately illustrates the fact than the story of the Tender Box. Hailing from East LA with its primarily Hispanic population, the members of the Tender Box were in fact heavily, and I mean heavily influenced by Britpop of all things. Blaring the likes of the Cure and Depeche Mode may sound out of place to those of us who maybe have accepted the East LA stereotype without question but according to Ric Moon, guitarist and keyboard player for the band, the Britpop influence in that area is pretty heavy in an underground sort of way.
Speaking to him at their recent Montreal show before they were heading off to Canadian Music Week and SXSW, Moon told me that there would often be these huge underground parties where the sounds of Britpop pumped out at full volume at some rented warehouse space before 200 passionate residents of East LA and that enthusiasm can be heard in each track of their CD The Score. From the pumping synth propelled “Mister Sister” and the guitar crunching “Media Lies” to the gorgeous ballad “Place Called Home” and the riff friendly “Shine a Light” this CD both sounds great and is a perfect launching pad for their incendiary live show. While the Britpop influence is there and readily acknowledged, this is by no means a Blur cover band. Far from it. Check out “Stranger than Fiction” with its gorgeous harp playing for a country fried counterpoint. A beautiful tune. The Score is original, modern and fresh with crystal clear production that captures every nuance and odd synth flourish. A great CD to be played loud but certainly headphone ready as well. A lot of fun, a lot of textures, a lot of great rock and roll. If you want to hear what a bunch of Mexicans sound like after listening to too many Cure records, have a listen to the Tender Box. You will be richly rewarded with a CD that only gets better with each time you listen to it. Check out their MySpace page and have a listen. Good stuff. Catch them live on their current tour if you can.