Orlando Band the Sh-Booms on The Blurred Odyssey

The Sh-Booms
The Sh-Booms
Photo by James Hand
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It's been a long slog for rock 'n' soul band the Sh-Booms from their founding in an Orlando garage in 2011 to having their single "Leon the Hustler" declared "the coolest song in the world." In fact, the Sh-Booms' debut album, The Blurred Odyssey — whose release the group will celebrate with a free show Friday night at Las Rosas — is all about the bandmates' struggle.

"It was influenced by the misery and joy of being in a band," Al Ruiz, the Sh-Booms' bassist, songwriter, and founder, tells New Times. "You ever read that piece by Steve Albini about the river of shit bands go through to get to the other side? This is about relationships, life, partying, and how we're starting to see the other side."

That other side came into view in 2015 when the band added singer Brenda Radney. "We met her through our engineer," Ruiz says. "Brenda was teaching our other singer how to be more soulful. When that old singer decided to leave, I asked her to join. We're all rock 'n' roll guys, and she's a straight-up soul singer from the streets. We started getting more powerful, dirty, and nasty."

Radney had been signed to Justin Timberlake's record label, Tennman. "She went from fancy studios to the dirt to recording in people's houses," Ruiz says. "She loved it because there's freedom. We can do whatever we want."

The recording process for The Blurred Odyssey took longer than Ruiz would have liked. The journey — spanning nearly a year and a half and surviving a production shakeup — lived up to the album's title. "We started off wanting to sound like super-old garage rock doing it live with tapes," he says. "It dragged on halfway through. We had to do it more modern." The praise, though, has rewarded the process. Besides the mention from Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius XM that "Leon the Hustler" is the coolest song in the world, the Sh-Booms also got some play on NPR that was heard by the B-52s' Kate Pierson. She loved their sound and asked them to open for the B-52s on a national tour. "It helped us learn to play under a lot of different scenarios," Ruiz says. "We went from playing with punk bands to a very different crowd."

Ruiz says the Sh-Booms' blurred odyssey taught them to pay attention to what people want to hear. Therefore the audience at Las Rosas will influence what kind of show the band delivers. "We like to change things up. We give a shit and don't want to play the same thing all the time."

The Sh-Booms. 9 p.m. Friday, March 29, at Las Rosas, 2898 NW Seventh Ave., Miami; 786-780-2700; lasrosasbar.com. Admission is free.

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