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.
At their peak of popularity, Oasis were the biggest band…in the UK. Though they had a few hits in the US, they never broke the US market like many expected them to in the mid 90’s. Driven to success with the double-edged sword of talent & sibling rivalry, it all fizzled out in 2009 after a pre gig fight between Liam and Noel Gallagher. Critics mocked their reverent worship of The Beatles, but I admired it. Is it really so different from the latest crop of post-punk bands who worship at the altar of Joy Division? At their best, Oasis could hang with The Beatles. At their worst, they were left in the dust by The Rutles. Where does a band go when it all crashes down?
The self titled album. What does it mean? Some bands use it to reset expectations, pointing forward to a new direction. Other bands use it to trim away the excess of the earlier releases, streamlining the sound for a mass audience. What I like about self titled releases from bands like The Beatles and Metallica is that they ended up becoming memorable with the band’s discography (yes, The Beatles before I was born). I’m not 100% sure what to say about Weezer’s 3 self titled records, but Peter Gabriel’s 4 self titled records are all brilliant in their own unique way. How about if you are a new-ish band on the scene? If you are Hyena Motorcade out of Los Angeles, you offer up an EP that showcases the band’s many strengths.
Natalie Merchant straddles multiple genres, never comfortably fitting in any scene. With the 10,000 Maniacs she veered from post-punk / folk to jangle pop. With her solo works she found even wider acceptance with her radio ready, alternative pop sound. Personally, seeing Natalie Merchant in concert in 2001 for the Motherland tour was a highlight among the hundreds of shows I’ve been fortunate to catch. She owned the stage and made her audience feel the depth of the words she was singing so passionately. Motherland was her last record of original material for over a decade – 2003’s The House Carpenter’s Daughter was a covers album, and 2010’s Leave Your Sleep was an album of lullabies dedicated to her daughter. Finally, we have a new album of original material – 13 years after the last album of original material (and that one happens to be my personal favorite solo record from Ms. Merchant). So, how’s the new record stack up? Read on…
The ghosts of our past can be ignored, viewed through rose-colored lenses, or confronted head on. Philadelphia based Nothing were founded by Dominic Palermo in 2011 shortly after he spent time in lock up on a few charges relating to a fight. Singer for a hardcore band (Horror Show), jail, a few years away from music – not the ideal career path for a musician trying to break on through (to the other side). Strangely enough, turning an introspective eye to the past has lent Palermo’s music a depth that can only come about by tackling the issues head on. Fortunately for us, we are left with what should be a contender for one of the finest albums of 2014.