By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
Go deep enough into West Miami-Dade, pegadito al International Mall, and you'll find a band named Lil Daggers holed up in a Hialeah recording studio, boozing it up and bashing out dirty squalls of psychedelic rock.
"If there's one thing that can't be said about us, it's that our songs all sound the same," guitarist Jacob Israel says. And he's right. At any given time, a Daggers cut channels heavy organs, '60s hippie sways, and the lost soundtrack for some shlocky zombie flick.
Israel has been a member of Lil Daggers since the beginning. It started as a casual thing when he and fellow founding bandmates — singer Johnny Saraiva and organist Reuben Molinares — hung out for a few months "just doing silly home recordings with friends." But add drummer Jose Peña and bass player Yuri St. Germain Bordas, fast-forward a couple of years, and the Daggers have just returned home from a three-week U.S. tour to plot the release of their self-titled debut LP on Boca Raton-based label Livid Records. "It is a lot darker than any of our previous material," Israel says, referring to the band's Stragglers and King Corpse EPs.
The freshest batch of Daggers tracks took eight months to make. In fact, Israel and crew had been planning this first full-length release ever since Livid Records label boss Chuck Livid released the King Corpse seven-inch last summer. "The Daggers really blew my mind," Livid says. "[I decided to work with them] because they're different. [And] the new album is a thinking man's record. Sure, a bit of pot and some PBRs don't hurt. But they're just grand.
"[It] represents how the Miami scene has grown in the last few years," he continues. "Lil Daggers really do Miami justice on this album."
Indeed, the ten-track collection is a rock 'n' roll artifact for Magic City creeps to cherish. It's dark. It's dirty. But it's also a far cry from the somewhat sarcastic fuzz of "Eyelids" and "Ya Tu Sabes." This new record is a more complex creature, packed with lo-fi garage-rock goodness as well as ghostly anthems such as "Give Me the Pill" and "Dead Golden Girls."
"We're all very dynamic people, and I think that reflects in the LP," Israel says. "I don't think we ever have any [specific] intentions when writing our songs. That's just what's up."
But what exactly is up with Lil Daggers? Well, the crew is planning to lay down a few more songs and release another seven-inch by early winter. Plus the Daggers wouldn't mind expanding their fan base to Broward and Palm Beach counties. "I always love playing with the Jameses. [And] despite them being the ugliest band in Palm Beach, Lil Daggers are the ugliest in Dade," Israel says. "[The Jameses'] Jesse [Bryan] and I were talking about a possible summer tour last night. [It's a] 305/561 takeover!"
As for what else is in store for Lil Daggers: "My magic eight-ball app tells me: 'Outlook good.' So we're just gonna run with that."