REVIEW - The Recliners
Look, I realize wedding/formal party bands can get stuck in the mud from time to time, but au contraire when taking in the Recliners. These post modern-power-loungers thrust the swing-bossa-samba-disco rock your way. It’s always a party.
Originally from Austin, this band now calls Richmond 50 percent of their home base. This band gets every generation from Virginia to Texas swinging with smiles, so it is only fitting both territories are covered.
Everything you could possibly want in a band is within the Recliners. As the Recliners put it, for over ten years they have entertained young and old, from tuxedo-ed to tongue-pierced, from debutantes to dirt-bikers.
The Recliners will light up the dance floor with the old standards and groovy new grooves, so hold on to your hats Shockoe Slip. Here come the Recliners.
REVIEW - The Recliners
The Recliners retrofit Cream, Billy Idol and Beastie Boys into lounge versions at nite clubs and venues throughout Richmond and the north eastern United States as well as the southwest and west coast.
The Richmond music scene could always use a little more good humor. All that math rock, jazz and metal is so damn serious.
Enter The Recliners, your new lounge band, playing cheesy (but technically adept), oddly soothing versions of popular modern songs — be they rock, rap or disco — in a swinging Vegas style full of bossa nova and cha-cha rhythms. Maybe you’ve heard L.A. comedy act Richard Cheese performing Nirvana with boozy, Dean Martin-like authority?
These guys were onto the shtick even earlier, in the mid-’90s, when they filled weekly gigs at clubs like Ego’s and the Ritz in Austin, Texas as well as multiple West Coast tours from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Phoenix and Vegas.
The original Recliners won numerous awards from the Austin Chronicle and the South by Southwest Music Awards, including being voted "Best Lounge/Swing Band", “Best Cover Act” and “Best Wedding Band.”
Actress Sandra Bullock, who has a house in Austin, hired them for her 2000 movie, “Miss Congeniality.”
Founder and principal arranger Russell Young, who plays keyboards and trumpet for the group, grew up in Richmond, where he once played in the Monarchs, a rock quartet that relocated to Austin and wound up backing Ronnie Lane of Small Faces fame and Bobby Keys, sax-man for The Rolling Stones---touring nationally as "Ronnie Lane and The Tremors with Bobby Keys".
With his tinted shades and lounge jacket, Young looks the part of a late-show musical director. Sitting at a booth in the smoky confines of the Devil’s Triangle bar Café Diem, where his locally constituted version of the Recliners plays every Friday night, Young gives the lowdown on why he left one of the best music scenes in the country to return to his hometown a year and a half ago.
“I love it here. … one of the biggest differences between performing here and in Austin is more people go out and support local music in Austin.”
Raoul Hernandez, music editor at the Austin Chronicle, that city’s alternative weekly, remembers the Recliners as spearheading the swing and lounge scene of the late ’90s in Austin. He recalls writing a feature about Thin Lizzy bassist Phil Lynott in which he recommended the Recliners’ cover of “The Boys Are Back in Town.”“A very well-done lounge version — almost like Hoagy Carmichael,” Hernandez says. “It really brought out what a great song that was, how it could’ve been a ’40s tune.”
The Recliners’ irreverent live show is all about hearing your favorite pop songs in a new light.
Since the beginning, Young has been writing down audience requests on bar napkins, which he keeps filed at home.“Not every song lends itself to this,” he says. “We take a three-chord song and arrange it with 12 chords. … when we first started, sometimes I had to record it and track every part myself, like on Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry,’ to prove to the band we could do it.”
Having formed the Recliners as a joke while working as chief studio engineer and producer in his downtown Austin recording studio, Midget Studios, (“I always wanted to play on ‘The Love Boat,’” Young says), he now treats the group as a mobile project, with versions in both Austin and Richmond. When he resettled here, he found several talented musicians via Craigslist.
The Richmond version of the Recliners has a new album coming out titled “White Room” (yes, after the Cream song). The group’s other records have received commercial radio airplay throughout the country, Young says, with three songs currently in heavy rotation on Sirius Radio and Dish Network.
Tonight the band sounds like it’s played together for years, its first set featuring snazzy, cocktail versions of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” before a heartwarming version of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” featuring sultry crooning from their debonair lead singer.
My eyes burn from the smoky haze, but the last thing I see appears to be a trio of Octomoms shimmying beneath a sputtering bubble machine while the band plays a nearly unrecognizable version of the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!).
”Not your usual Friday night bar tunes in Richmond".
REVIEW - The Recliners
I remember a New Year's Eve party years ago, ringing in 2001. The host put on his new favorite CD, and we revelers spent the next hour dancing and laughing to some crazy guy called Richard Cheese, swinging finger-snappin' versions of Nine Inch Nails, Blink 182, and the Offspring. Those days may be long since past, but you can relive them with Richmond's own The Recliners. These "post-modern power loungers" started doing the schtick long before Richard Cheese (since 1994) and touring nationally and put out CDs with the sound first: they blend swing, lounge, and bossa nova to bring you unexpectedly smooth covers of your favorite rock and pop hits.
I compared them to Richard Cheese, and that's inevitable. (This band was FIRST, 1994 --putting our their first CD in 1996 - Richard cheese started in 2000) but another thing sets them apart: while Cheese was deliberately, well, cheesy, The Recliners are playing it straight up. While the idea of lounge covers of rock songs may be a little schmaltzy, their performance isn't. The band, spawned as a brother chapter to the group of same name in Austin, Texas, has ten years of experience under their cummerbunds. Complete with trumpet solos, brushed drums, upright bass and smoothly crooned vocals, the Recliners are playing good lounging swing, despite their somewhat unorthodox material. They do play some traditional jazz songs and some originals as well, but their main course is covers of tunes by everyone from Prince to The Ramones and AC/DC to Nirvana. Some of their covers almost work better this way than the originals (I wonder now if Sting had Sinatra in mind when he wrote "Roxanne"?)
She may not have to wear that dress tonight, but you may want to get dolled up and make a night of it on a Friday with dinner and a show with The Recliners.