Brooklyn quartet Lake Street Dive brings its delightfully unaffected, ’60s-drenched soul-pop to the Neptune.
It’s only a coincidence that the initials of Lake Street Dive — the delightfully unaffected, ’60s-drenched, soul-pop quartet playing the Neptune Theatre on Thursday (March 3) — are LSD. But the group has been riding such a wave of critical and popular success, its members may well think they are hallucinating.
Formed as a recreational side project a dozen years ago, when the players were studying jazz at the New England Conservatory, Lake Street Dive found itself suddenly famous after a whimsical 2012 video of the band singing the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” on a Boston sidewalk went viral. Now the Brooklyn-based group is signed to Nonesuch Records, which just released the excellent “Side Pony,” and has embarked on a national tour.
Reached by phone in Phoenix last week before the tour’s first show there, lead singer Rachael Price said she never anticipated being in a band quite like LSD — the name is an affectionate reference to a Minneapolis nightclub strip — but that singing has been her dream since childhood.
Lake Street Dive
8 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the Neptune Theatre, 1303 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; $25 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she said.
The daughter of a classical musician who also loves the Beatles and Motown, Price, 30, grew up in Hendersonville, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville. It was not unusual for her and her three siblings to sing around the house.
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“I was really in love with older, traditional jazz, even when I was 5 or 6,” she recalled.
That’s probably why jazzy vocal flourishes echoing the Boswell Sisters flash through the band’s work, even on the island-inflected title track from “Side Pony.” (The album title refers to a hairstyle, but also, she said, to the band’s eagerness to champion adventurous material others might sideline.)
From jazz, Price moved on to ’60s pop.
“My father is a music appreciator of all types,” she said. “So anytime I expressed any interest in something — Paul Simon, Motown, Stevie Wonder — he would bring home the whole works.”
At the Conservatory, Price studied with the highly respected jazz singer Dominique Eade.
“I had copied so many other singers,” Price said. “She stripped those things away, and helped me figure out what I sounded like.”
What Price sounds like is a passionate, bluesy belter with a broad voice and a trace of a drawl that might remind you of Amy Winehouse (minus the excess). Cast that voice over the thrumming stand-up bass of Bridget Kearney, the crisp trap drums of Michael Calabrese and the twanging guitar of Michael “McDuck” Olson (who also plays rich-toned trumpet), and you get a stripped-down, honest sound that’s hard to resist.
The new album features more studio enhancements than their earlier work, but remains true to the band’s spirit. “Close To Me” is old-school soul, with a smart bass-and-guitar counterline under Price’s warning a man not to get too close to her.
The bouncy rock ’n’ roll of “Spectacular Failure” suggests Laura Nyro, as Price starts one line after another with “Oh, Bobby!” The snarling “I Don’t Care About You” crosses the opening twang of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” with a tweaked vamp from Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” and “Hell Yeah” drops in on the Ronettes and Shangri-Las.
For all the retro references, there’s nothing revivalist or “stuck-in-the-’60s” about this band. One of the new tracks, “Can’t Stop,” even nods to disco.
“No, we didn’t take LSD in the studio, listening to Donna Summer,” Price cracked. “But the whole point of making this album was to just go for it, to rock your side pony, unapologetically.”
Sounds like a good trip to me.