On its rockin' debut EP, "Steal the Show," The Krooks blend some unlikely sounds that tug ears in multiple directions. There are subtle, and not-so subtle, influences flying about the band's rock 'n' roll soundscape. The consistency lies in singer Sara Passamonte's vocals — vocals that exude mood and myriad tones that come sailing out of her mouth over the shag and groove provided by the rest of the band. Along with Passamonte, The Krooks features Jesse Werzinger on keys; Dan Morris, guitar; bassist Robert Smith; Chris Boone on trombone; and drummer Dewayne James.
Even with several Krooks members — including Passamonte — having done time in Rochester reggae-rock band Nevergreen, The Krooks doesn't play straight-up one-drop reggae or rock-steady. But the band does use the same approach as Nevergreen to achieve maximum groove and shake appeal. It heeds the various influences that come its way, but doesn't go nuts. The Krooks builds from the inside out. It's like, along with the rock, the band is playing reggae's distant cousin. Either way, The Krooks is full of hooks.
"I think our origins were more rock," Passamonte says of her time in Nevergreen. "The reggae came along and settled in the middle somewhere. The rock element seems to have stuck a little more than the reggae with this new EP. The Krooks is more funk-rock than the reggae-rock we did before. The rock is a more serious thread."
There aren't a lot of female-fronted bands in Rochester, but that's not the rarity that keeps The Krooks unique. That goes to the band's one-man horn section, Chris Boone. Yes, they can double him up into a veritable horn section in the studio, but live he's the only horn up there; he's on his own.
"I think we're the only band in Rochester with a lone trombone player," Passamonte says. "We wanna fill out the horn section, but it's tricky."
The Krooks is a collaborative endeavor, starting with the guitar and bass woodshedding together and creating riffs. This is how the fuse gets lit. This tenacious sextet isn't at all stingy. Though there are a mere four cuts on this EP, all four songs come at the listener from all four sides of the rock-riff spectrum, representing as many moods and styles. As it slowly turns and a tune begins to take shape, Passamonte jumps in.
"Then I come in and do my thing," Passamonte says. The band as a whole is open for the unintended genres, time signatures and tones that creep in unaware, even if they don't make sense sometimes.
"Rob and I have this one where the feel is reggae but it's a jazz chord progression that isn't supposed to work and yet it does," guitarist Dan Morris says.
Have there ever been times that it doesn't work at all? "Yeah," says Morris. "All the time. The musicianship doesn't get lost, but it doesn't always need to be the focus. Still there are a lot of unexplored areas we haven't taken it before."