The Orlando-based garage soul band plays Wednesday night at Gasa Gasa.

the sh-booms photo
The Sh-Booms

[Updated] [This story is the first for new contributor Fiona McMurtry.]

“Garage and Soul go hand in hand” claims Al Ruiz, bassist and songwriter for the Orlando-based band, The Sh-Booms

“Back in the day, soul bands, they were really bands,” he says. “It was soul music, but it was rock and roll too.” It is this sentiment as well as the sound of garage bands such as the Sonics, that inspire The Sh-Booms. The band describes itself as “garage-soul,” and its 2016 EP Usage Fee makes clear just how fitting the label is. The influence of early garage bands is clear as the songs are noisy and underproduced in the way good garage bands are. The guitar brings to mind both the ’60s garage rock Ruiz cites as an influence as well as The Black Lips (early in their career) as well as other current artists who list similar influences. 

As soon as lead vocalist Brenda Radney starts to sing, there is no doubt that The Sh-Booms are soulful. Ruiz describes her as “a shredder” in front of “a bunch of dudes who play really loud,” and the impressive power of her vocals as well as her occasional delicacy stand up well to the band’s sound. Passion unites the band and the singer the same way, Ruiz believes, that it unites garage and soul.

The Sh-Booms open for Kolar Wednesday night at Gasa Gasa

Prior to 2013, the Sh-Booms were a very different band. Ruiz describes the band’s early music as “nicer sounding” and more inspired by Motown. There are still elements of that influence evident on Usage Fee, but after their original vocalist left the band, their sound began its transformation that ultimately led to where they are now. A pivotal point for them came when Radney joined the band after their paths serendipitously crossed in the studio where both were recording. At the time, she was signed to Justin Timberlake’s Tennman Records and had been for almost eight years. She had extensive experience in the music industry “working in crazy million dollar facilities and recording with big name artists,” Ruiz says.

Despite the differences in their places in the music world, Ruiz “just threw it out there” that the band was looking for a new singer, and Radney was into the idea. Ruiz sent some of the band’s songs to Radney and flew her down to Florida to record with them. Radney moved from her home in Staten Island to Orlando soon after and became a full-fledged member.

The Sh-Booms experience has been unlike anything Radney has been a part of, Ruiz says. They are recording their upcoming LP “in a shitty house with limited microphones,” he says, but rather than being off put by the DIY recording process, Radney embraced it and thrived. The Sh-Booms are planning to release their debut LP this coming fall (tentatively in October) and are excited about what's coming. The album, they say, is recorded on tape, “with no frills and no cheats” for in their minds a truly real sound, because in Ruiz’s words, the Sh-Booms “really are a live band.” 

Updated June 15, 12:35 p.m.

The live video has been changed one that features the current band lineup.