Dark Retro Garage and Soul Sounds from Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside

by delarue

Portland, Oregon band Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside mix retro guitar influences from the 60s into a defiantly unique, high-energy sound that’s part garage rock and part oldschool soul, with a lot of Link Wray snarl as well. They’re playing a free show at Pier 84 at 44th St. and the Hudson at around 8 PM on July 11; their latest album, Untamed Beast is streaming at Soundcloud.

“Never gonna apologize for being so intense, how the hell would that make any sense?” Ford sneers on the opening track, They Told Me, over drummer Ford Tennis’ caveman stomp, bassist Tyler Tornfelt going way up and hitting hard over the lingering Link Way Rumble menace of the two guitars. On the funky, doo wop-infused Addicted, Ford slashes and tremolo-picks against lead guitarist Jeffrey Munger’s resonant, reverb-drenched lines, building to a firestorm of trumpet, backing vocals and chord-chopping. “I know where the party can be found…dancing in the living room, drinking white wine,” Ford grins over a snarling minor-key soul vamp on Party Kids. Bad Boys works agile handoffs between the two guitars over a dark minor-key soul vamp lit up by a couple of slashing Dick Dale-style slides down the scale; then Ford pushes the beat on the slow, sultry, luridly noir Shivers.

Devil takes an oldtime gospel vamp and makes a rockabilly shuffle out of it. The album’s best song, Paris takes a richly successful, tuneful turn into open-tuned acoustic country blues. Do Me Right works a slyly innuendo-packed litany of food for a hokum blues vibe over a 60s soul shuffle. Lip Boy pounds along on a boomy, Cramps-y surf groove. Munger’s savage surf playing brings Rockability to a screaming peak; the album winds up with the surprisingly laid-back, acoustic Roll Around, Ford wishing for an escape back to the 50s away from teens technology overkill.

Another cool thing about this album, and about this band, is that while everything they’re doing has been done before, they don’t lapse into cliche or go over the top. Ford could put  a snotty pout into her nonchalantly sweaty alto delivery and probably get away with it, and the rest of the band could recycle more well-worn licks than they do. But they don’t. Much as they’ve got the 60s sound down so cold that someone hearing them might assume that these songs were recorded 45 years ago, nobody is going to confuse this band with anybody else.