South Carolina has been consistently producing great musicians and music forever, but it always seem like I am wishing for more great rock bands with strong female lead singers to explode out of the Palmetto state. Helping to get us out of arrears in this matter and also taking care of business is Charleston’s The Give & The Take. Led by the swaggering, powerhouse vocals of pianist Charlotte Laird and completed by the tight, nuanced combo of Andrew Tolbert on guitars and Jay Kramer on drums, the soulful indie rock band smokes like an East Coast version of Alabama Shakes on some songs and searches their souls like Adele on the more introspective numbers. “All three of us all love that sort-of late ’70s rock and roll that’s just the foundation of solid rock music,” says Tolbert and it shows on their 5-song self-titled debut EP from Coast Records. The band puts out a sound that fans of Elton John or any piano-based ’70s rock could definitely dig into but there is a modern sensibility and production to keep the proceedings from veering into retro-worship.
So the band has the talent and the sound, but what about songs? The EP is five tunes clocking in at 24 minutes, so its got a fair amount of content for an introductory primer to the group. Opener “Holy City”, bookended by ringing church bells, is about exactly what you think it is: pride in your home. More than just a paean to Charleston, though, the combination of Laird’s tough vocals and the urgent guitar motif keep the piano-driven indie rock fast paced and insistent. The great “Since I Walked Away”, is the centerpiece here, Charlotte’s earth-shaking soulful vocals recalling Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard. It’s a song about a hard break-up, but when a killer chorus and the rock solid songwriting meet up with its catchy bridge, its hard to tell if the song will put the listener in crisis or triumph mode. The next two songs are positive indie rock/ pop affirmations, the first moody and the second bouncy, all with those great vocals. Closer “Without You” begins in Adele piano-ballad style but then the band can’t help but morph into modern rock. Laird’s voice hits with either gruff potency or sweet notes as needed and her songwriting drives the whole affair.
The band members have at different times been living in Charlotte and according to Andrew, their meeting here was more than chance; “I don’t know if you believe in fate or whatever you want to call it, but eventually, in some universe, we were going to get together and play music” he says and we can all be thankful for the fates. Produced by Matt Zutell of Coast Records, the album sounds ready for action on a big stage. The group already has enough material for a forthcoming LP and recently released a new song “Easier to Love” in response to some of the tragedies that have plagued the nation lately. You can check both the EP out here and the new song here and get into The Give & The Take now as they are just starting to get down to business.
Recommended if you like: Alabama Shakes, Adele, Lake Street Dive
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.