Liverpool’s Sunstack Jones have long been one of my favorite indie bands over the last 5 or 6 years. Hints of 60’s psychedelia, nods to 90’s Britpop, and meticulous attention to detail make for an engaging listen. The band operates as a collective, something that has been part of their modus operandi since day 1. Christopher Jones is on vocals / guitar joined by Richy (drums), Lorcan (guitar), Dave (vocals / guitar), and Jules (bass). The band have a number of releases to their name, all evoking nostalgia, coastal drives by sunset, and life’s regrets. The latest self titled LP takes these traits and perfects them.
The band caught the attention of The Verve’s lead guitarist Nick McCabe, who has lent his brilliance to the mastering of the new album. The band’s official bio calls this “a 3D quality, sprinkling it with some extra magic”. Well, who am I to disagree? I’ve had this album on repeat for a few months – this is a woefully late review. What I like about the mastering is the impressive use of dynamics – this is an album that doesn’t feel bound by the current trend of redlining everything for iTunes users. The album uses fade ins, woozy vocals, and separation to preach the Sunstack Jones gospel.
I’m on your side opens the album and slowly fades in, riding on Buffalo Springfield-ish vibe. That sad bass line is absolutely killer – both euphoric and sad, it is a hell of a way to start an album. By the by is the single, and I can see why. Vocals are almost used as an instrument within the mix, the band is operating as a true collective here. Chiming guitar licks and a shuffling rhythm take us up to the chorus. By the by means “Incidentally; on a side note; by the way. An interjection meant to casually introduce or emphasize more information in the conversation.” The way it is sung in the chorus reminds me of The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel – only a good thing in my book. A glorious single – video embedded below. Lighthouse was a single released quite a bit before the album and has an infectious groove. I was drawn to the title, having spent countless days on the beaches of New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon looking for lighthouses. Layered vocals, psychedelic vibes, nostalgia inducing – the band hits the mark with this tune. Sun is always ends the album on a strong note – “the sun is always there / just for you”. Nice sentiments. Musically, it encompasses all the strong points of the album – echo guitars, hazy vocals, the band “locked in” to a groove. Perfection!
The album can be purchased here on a variety of formats. The mastering by Nick McCabe and production by Paul Den Heyer is a collaboration I’d love to see again, it is outstanding. I’d also urge you to explore the band’s extensive back catalogue – I own each release and return to them quite often.
Verdict: One of 2018’s finest albums
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Buffalo Springfield, Love, Ocean Colour Scene, The Verve
- I’m on your side
- Always something up
- Something’s happened to my mind
- Without being told
- By the by
- End at the start
- From Afar
- Piano drum
- Say something
- Stay awhile
- Sun is always