Soft Abuse mentioned this full length from Sonny and the Sunsets when I reviewed a couple of their singles a little while back and looking further into Sonny I found a Tim Cohen/F&O's connection so I had to give it a listen and it's been sinking in this past week.
One of my favorites, the first track, 'Too Young to Burn' is warm layers of acoustic guitar and organic percussion; slightly faded to the left snaps and handclaps. It's just the start of that gather-round-the-campfire folk 60's sound... which is present throughout 'Tomorrow is Alright'. There's a timeless quality you can't put a finger on to sort out the exact elements... but still it's contemporary sounding.... not so much a throwback that it's losing it's own identity, the most successful kind of combination of influence. He recreates that folk/pop sound from the 60's or 70's but without being too nostalgic, too faithful to details.
But it doesn't completely stay in that era either...from the slightly country bluegrass of 'Stranded', to the slow Velvets nihilistic slow echo of 'Death Cream' it seems Sonny just takes whatever style works for the content...or his rambling ways translate into genre hopping....all while being catchy enough to unconsciously sing along with the vocals.
Something like 'Strange Love' is a classic 50's echo harmony ballad with off tune ancient piano. The sort of musician who grew up playing all over the place, soaking up the styles from everywhere, not playing with visions of rocking the next ATP festival, but making enough in tips to get that guitar fixed and move on to the next town.
He writes with unselfconscious sentiment and the idealized hopes about love, or the visions of society like in 'Planet of Women'...well in that case it's kind of a sci-fi, duet conversation with Tahlia Harbour. Men being slaves...willing slaves....there's nothing you have to read into, it's storytelling, good-times, sunny west coast roadtrip sounds.
Amoeba's blog has an interview with Sonny... tons more info about the album and it's various guest appearances and connections.
500 copies of vagabond soul from Soft Abuse:
...and the first 50 copies get a comic written by Sonny...
Sonny & the Sunsets' debut album will be available 17 November via LP / DL.
The album is a co-release with the SF label Secret Seven, who you might know from the brilliant Tim Cohen (Fresh & Onlys, Black Fiction) solo LP from earlier this year.
Sonny & the Sunsets are a beautiful west coast thing. Birthed from the sand, the surf, and twilight campfires down in Ocean Beach, Sonny & the Sunsets’ busted beach-pop songs spark recollections of doo wop's otherworldly despair, the kitchen sink savoir faire of The Raincoats, a touch of humor from the Michael Hurley school, and the positive possibilities exuded by Jonathan Richman. Helmed by the acclaimed singer/songwriter, playwright, comic book author & onetime troubadour pianoman Sonny Smith, The Sunsets have featured a revolving door lineup that now includes Kelley Stotlz (Sub Pop) and Tahlia Harbour (Dry Spells, Citay). Others like John Dwyer (The Oh Sees, etc.), Tim Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys, Black Fiction) and Shayde Sartin (The Fresh & Onlys, The Skygreen Leopards, etc) cosmically appeared to contribute to the debut LP, Tomorrow is Alright.
Tomorrow is Alright is limited to 500 copies. An illustration from the heralded artist Chris Johanson (Deitch Projects, Awesome Vistas label) adorns the sleeve.