The Frightnrs hail from contemporary Queens, but they’re time travelers. They nail a very specific sound: ’60s Jamaican rocksteady. Like a lot of the countries in that era, Jamaica took the sounds of American soul and R&B and refracted them through its own culture. Ska and reggae sandwiched the development of rocksteady, resulting in something that’s simultaneously upbeat and laid-back while still baring wounded souls.
Wounds haunt the Frightnrs. After they recorded their debut album, Nothing More To Say, singer Dan Klein was diagnosed with A.L.S., a terminal disease that left him weak and confined to a wheelchair. Keyboardist Chuck Patel and his brother, guitarist/bassist Preet Patel, lost their father in a traffic accident, and a few months later, Klein died in his sleep.
In retrospect, the album sounds eerie, shrouded in era-specific tape-hiss while the band seemingly grapples with its impending fate. “Nothing more to say / You always get your way,” Klein achingly croons on the title track. It’s directed to a lover; it’s directed to death. The Frightnrs plan to carry on with different guest singers in Klein’s memory–a perfect way to extend the somber beauty they’ve already mastered.
“Nothing More To Say” appears on Nothing More To Say, out September 2 via Daptone.
–Art Levy // host, Sundays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX
*Note: post updated to reflect the fact that Dan Klein was diagnosed with A.L.S. after recording, not during the session.