San Antonio indie-rockers The Please Help celebrate new album with Sunday show at Low Country

Bandleader Phil Luna Luna has a long history with the Alamo City music scene, having also been a member of Worm, 1.0, Shit City Dreamgirls, Royal Punisher and Fear Snakeface.

click to enlarge The Please Help will celebrate the release of a new album Friday at Low Country. - Courtesy Photo / The Please Help
Courtesy Photo / The Please Help
The Please Help will celebrate the release of a new album Friday at Low Country.
We all had plenty of days for soul searching during the pandemic. San Antonio musician Phil Luna used that downtime to craft Dark Days, the third album from his band The Please Help.

Luna and company will celebrate the new LP with a release show Sunday, Sept. 25 at Low Country. In addition to having copies of the album available, its artwork — also created by Luna — will be for sale.

If the name The Please Help sounds like a Beatles mashup, you’re on the right track. Dark Days kicks off with “Where to Begin,” which features not just Beatles-esque harmonies but a vocal arrangement reminiscent of the iconic band. Even though The Please Help’s core sound is rooted in indie rock, the group is adept at channeling a vibe rooted in the classics.

And, oh yeah, the dark days of the title are about the depths of addiction. So, along with the harmonies and bright-sounding chord changes, Luna serves up some of the despair spelled out in the LP's title.

Luna has been public about his struggles with bipolar disorder, adding that a time of “stability” allowed him to write the album. A period of struggle followed, though he ultimately pushed through and arrived on the other side with the personal document.

“There’s a break in the skin / That’s starting to bleed,” Luna sings on “Just What I Need.” “Just one stitch to keep it together / maybe a little bit of speed.”

Appropriately, the band plays in a plaintive, longing style. Some of that stems from the arrangements, which sound like they’re deliberately written at the top of Luna’s vocal range, forcing him to struggle to hit notes. His voice may be an acquired taste for some, but its distinctive character is suited for indie-rock, a musical realm where listeners aren’t exactly seeking out American Idol-style vocalists.

Luna has a long history with the Alamo City music scene, having also been a member of Worm, 1.0, Shit City Dreamgirls, Royal Punisher and Fear Snakeface. Though the songs on Dark Days are credited to the whole group, it feels like Luna’s baby.

“Landslide,” is more of a riff-rocker than the album’s other tunes. And while not a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, it most certainly is inspired by Stevie Nicks’s favorite “extracurricular activity.” At one point Luna sings bluntly: “Let’s get high like a rock star!”

Dark Days is less guitar focused than The Please Help’s prior album, 2020’s Solar. There’s not really a solo to match the one on “We Will Believe In Anything,” a high point of that release.

Instead of the rawness of the previous record, Luna went deeper on each of the tracks. We’re not only treated to more intricate vocal arrangements but the addition of synths, played by himself and guitarist Javier Padilla. The band is rounded out by Jerry Rincon on bass and Glorium’s Juan Ramos on drums.

Those vocal arrangements are front and center on “Love Song,” a plaintive look at the power of, well, writing love songs. And if you think the happy singing sounds like someone whistling past the graveyard, you’re probably right.

“Love Song,” like much of the new release, seems to suggest that we should enjoy good times and sing happy songs while we can. You never know when the album’s titular dark days will be back.

Free, 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25, Low Country, 318 Martinez St., (210) 560-2224, lowcountrysa.com.

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