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 Classic Hunt are a new – but not new to the scene – band based out of Philadelphia, PA. My hometown and where I spent my 1st 24 ½ years. The band describe themselves as “psychedelic-folk-jazz-punk-blues” and I can’t think of a more apt description. The confidence displayed in their first officially released recordings betrays the depth of experience that each member brings to the table. The band was founded by keyboardist and singer Tyler Hayduk who has made a name himself in various Philadelphia bands – even opening for GZA on the 2012 Liquid Swords tour. After laying down songs that hinted at a new direction, the full band came together through jam sessions in early 2017. The band is now composed of Tyler, Brendan Burke (guitar), Andrew Haff (guitar), Jude Alvarez (bass), and Aaron Wolf (drums). Full disclosure – Jude is related to a relative of mine, though we aren’t officially related. All through “the law”. The Lyrids is the band’s debut. And what a debut it is.
The Lyrids takes its title from the annual meteor shower that takes place from April 16th to April 26th each year. A nice variation on the “April Showers” expression, the EP release coincides with these celestial happenings. The title of the EP is a nod towards the in-depth intellectual wit on display in the lyrics on all 4 songs. Back to Life starts the album with a bit of a jangle pop feel. Hayduk’s vocals kick in and sound like a mix of 90’s alternative and Bob Dylan. A tone poem story longing for simplicity in the face of life’s complexities, it keeps coming back to the phrase “I’m dying to…fuck you…back to life”. And the way it is phrased comes off as a statement of intent. Perfect. The sound fades out on a Guns ‘N Roses / Slash type guitar solo. Which is the way to my heart, truly. Catalina has my favorite line on the record: “The company was on point / They smell like lavender and pumpkin pie”. I can picture that, I’ve been there, you probably have too. The guitars shimmer like something from The Chameleons and the bass line just kills – anchoring the whole thing down. The song does a great job of building – and sustaining – a mysterious vibe that keeps the listener entranced. A catharsis of sorts is reached in the last minute or so when the band jams to another killer guitar solo. Sunflowers for Rye continues with the cryptic atmosphere. The band’s interplay is particularly exceptional on this track, the space between the instruments really allowing the players to flourish. Lyrically, this is devastating stuff. “Are you holding me / Or are you holding me back?”. Star Vultures brings things full circle – jangle pop that is an altogether lighter affair than the previous two songs. This is also the song where the EP takes its title from. Of course, that’s not in the chorus. The chorus reminds me of a big 90’s alternative hit single. I can envision the video filmed in downtown Philly as Hayduk sings “Don’t watch me walk away without saying goodbye”. A perfect way to end a perfect EP.
The EP is available now on Bandcamp. You can also follow them on The Social Network. The band has an album release show coming on May 18th at Orlieb’s in Philadelphia. Limited edition CD’s will be available at that show. I can’t praise this band enough – absolutely worth checking out. They just may be the next addition to the legacy of great bands hailing from Philadelphia.
Verdict: Promising Debut
For Fans of: The Essex Green, Lilys, Mojave 3, The Band, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub
- Back To Life
- Sunflowers for Rye
- Star Vultures
The last time Dan Florio released a new album, Washington State was in the midst of a dreary rainy season. Darkness. Cold. Wet. 2014. Here we are in 2018 with Dan’s latest EP and this rainy season has been eating at my soul in a season full of life changes. Changes and routines – the only constants in life. It was an unexpected note from Mr. Florio himself that alerted me to his new music, and I’ve had this EP on repeat ever since. A Day Wiser finds Dan returning the sparser instrumentation of his debut EP. It is a stark reminder of the strength of his tunes and a welcome return. He is assisted by John O’Reilly Jr. on drums and percussion along with Caitlin Mahoney on backing vocals on a track.
Coming My Way opens the EP on a strong note – emotive vocals, melodic guitar – no hints of sadness. The feeling of nostalgia is heavy, the longing in Florio’s voice clear. This wouldn’t sound out of place on a release by The Band in the 70’s. Dream of Mine is the track featuring Caitlin Mahoney on backing vocals and is a melancholy acoustic lament. Young Traveler has a bit of a groove to it – the track on the release that has fullest instrumentation. “I worried for no reason at all / but now i’m feeling free”. My favorite song is the last one. White Tailed Hare is an evocative pastoral work out that evokes imagery straight out of Watership Down. “there’s a white-tailed hare with a heart of a bear”. A stunning end to this short but impactful release.
You can pick up the EP here as a “pay what you want” model. It comes highly recommended.
Verdict: Warmth in Winter
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Sixth Great Lake, The Band, Neil Young, Neil Drake
- Coming My Way
- Dream of Mine
- Young Traveler
- White Tailed Hare
About a year ago, I had the privilege of interacting with Sunstack Jones – an indie band that hail from Northern England (Liverpool and Blackburn). Their 2013 single You Can Help Me Out was one of my anthems for the summer of ’13, its Britpop-ish vibe perfectly aligning with what I was feeling at the time. The band promised a 2nd record coming soon, and we got the 1st taste of the new record in Spring of 2014. Bet I Could offered up a dreamy slice of melancholy that never felt sad. A perfect introduction to the new record, Roam.
I’ve been to Vancouver, B.C. about a dozen times over the years (maybe more). People not from the Pacific Northwest may look at the close proximity of Seattle, WA and think “There can’t be that much of a difference.”. They’d be wrong. Dead wrong. Once you cross over the Canadian border, you are left with the distinct feeling of being in a foreign land (I jest, ever so slightly). Gone are US Dollars, replaced with coins called “Loonies” and “Toonies”. There is a suave European flavor in the city that sets Vancouver apart from its other Pacific Northwest cities (other than Victoria, also in B.C.). The band Vancouver isn’t from Canada (though they’ve had this record pressed there). They are, however, a bit different.