Initially comprised of Dan Klein (vocals), Chuck Patel (organ, piano), Rich Terrana (drums, vocals) and Preet (bass, vocals), along with Norihiro Kikuta (guitar) and Mike Torres (percussion), Queens-based act The Frightnrs have developed a reputation across the city’s DIY and soundsystem scenes for a sound that draws from late 1960s Jamaican Rocksteady, 80s Rub A Dub, punk rock, ska and reggae in a way that’s a subtle redefinition of what a contemporary reggae act can sound like. In fact, the act’s debut effort received airplay from reggae and radio legend David “Ram Jam” Roddigan and Mad Decent’s Diplo, who later released the band’s EP last year.
After the release of their EP, renowned New York-based funk and soul label Daptone Records released the band’s critically acclaimed cover of Etta James‘ “I’d Rather Go Blind” before officially signing the band as their first reggae signing based on two things — the strength of their local reputation and on the fact that they stumbled on to the perfect band to a long desired Rocksteady album, with Victor Axelrod, best known as Ticklah behind the dials and knobs. As the band’s Chuck Patel explained in press notes “Rocksteady was the first style of Jamaican music that Dan [Klein] and me fell in love with, and the idea of making a classic album for a classic label like Daptone was a dream come true.” As soon as the band was officially signed, the members of the band immediately went to work with the understanding that they had to work within Daptone Records’ rigorous constraints — mainly they had to write only Rocksteady songs, which forced the band to display a singular focus. In fact, as Axelrod added “The fact that the direction of the album was determined by it being a Daptone record was crucial. We wanted to make a solid and cohesive record and so [we] chose songs that most fit the Daptone aesthetic and the result was the best music that Dan and the Frightnrs had ever made with truly expanded levels of creativity.”
Sadly while the band was writing and recording the material for their recently released full-length debut Nothing Left to Say, the band’s frontman and co-founder Dan Klein was diagnosed with ALS and although he was able to finish the album, Klein tragically died just before the album was released. And as a result, the album for the band is a tribute and testament to their dear friend, collaborator and founder; but on another level Klein’s presence is a haunting reminder of the impermanence of all things while being a reminder that in many ways art is a way to pursue some level of immortality — even if it’s only for a few people.
The album’s first single and title track “Nothing More To Say” has an old school sound and feel, and will likely remind those New Yorkers of Dahved Levy‘s WBLS radio show back in the day. And although the song possesses an upbeat, bouncy riddim, the song is ironically enough an achingly bitter lament from the song’s narrator about being devoted to a fickle, deceitful and difficult lover, who probably never loved him anyway, and as the narrator recognizes the awful truth that his relationship was a lie, he vows to pack up his stuff and go — and go as quickly as possible while nursing a broken heart. Love is a strange and confusing thing even in the best of circumstances and the song captures the sense of foolishness we’ve had in trusting someone we maybe shouldn’t have; the regret over waiting valuable time with someone not quite worth our time and attention; the strange balance of love and hate being shifted; and the sense of uncertainty — both of one’s future and if they’d be able to trust someone else again.
The recently released video for the song is a fitting tribute to Dan Klein, as it captures him with the band performing in clubs, recording material at Daptone Records and at a makeshift home studio, and captures the band goofing off. At one point as a sad tribute, the video focuses on the band recording the song with an empty microphone at the center of the room. Some of of the footage is taken from iPhones while the rest of its professionally shot and edited but more importantly, it captures Dan Klein’s life and his sorely missing presence — while capturing the lives of everyday musicians.