Upon debuting last December, retro soul band The Regrettes was an instant hit in Columbus — the kind that headlines ComFest, gleans CD102.5 spins and throws an album release party at the Newport in its first year. That party (followed by a “gala” at Hampton’s on King) is this Friday, so let’s run through some of the factors that contributed to the band’s rapid rise to local acclaim.
There’s the fact that the members have been slugging it out in the Columbus music scene for quite a while: “We’ve all been doing music for a long time, so it doesn’t feel like it was that instant,” keyboardist and producer James Allison said.
There’s the universal appeal of classic R&B and soul: “It’s a sound that everyone likes,” singer Lizzy Morris said. “It’s not like a niche thing.”
And of course, there’s the charm and chemistry exuding from dual lead singers Morris and Mehgan Alexandria Hutchinson: “I think it was Mehgan and I’s connection, honestly,” Morris said.
Dolled up on stage, the singers exhibit an almost psychic synchronicity whether belting out harmonies or shaking tambourines and body parts. It’s a wonder two soul divas can work together so smoothly, but against the odds the duo developed a winning dynamic instantly.
Apparently drummer Adam Scoppa knew what he was doing when he proposed a two-headed throwback girl group. Between The Regrettes, post-punk band Psychic Wheels and his gig as a DJ at the Heatwave! dance party, Scoppa has fashioned himself as a Columbus retro impresario. He understands the risks of revisiting well-trodden sounds; the trick, he explained, is finding your voice within the established tropes.
“Retro-tinged music has been recycled so many times,” Scoppa said. “It’s fun to play with certain conventions.”
To wit, debut Don’t Talk Back is deeply classicist but unmistakably The Regrettes. It’s filled with simple, harmonious music for rock ’n’ roll parties, which is exactly what the band is throwing Friday at the Newport with The Dewdroppers and The Washington Beach Bums. Afterwards, the Heatwave! DJs will throw down at Hampton’s.
“People should come expecting a party,” Allison said.