They say opinions are like assholes in that everybody has one. From time to time I'll ask one of the people I know for their opinion of a band coming to town.—Ed.
Special to The Killing Floor
Sonny & the Sunsets were a little-known band from San Francisco before indie music tastemakers elevated them to cult status. First, both Pitchfork and Aquarium Drunkard wrote highly positive reviews of their 2009 Soft Abuse Records release Tomorrow is Alright. Then this summer a Fat Possum re-release of the album caused both sites to republish their original reviews, which together pushed Sonny & Co. into the national indie rock spotlight.
Between release and re-release, frontman Smith spent a good amount of time working on a crazy, but brilliant, project called 100 Records. He made up one hundred different band names with one hundred different album titles, then sent them out to friends to create fake album covers. Then he wrote and recorded a different song for each fake band and put them in a jukebox in a gallery along with the album art.
With the re-release of Tomorrow is Alright the attention is drawing in on the band and the remarkable talent of Sonny himself. San Francisco's Gallery 16 has released a collection of 7-inch prints by selected artists along with a 16-track CD titled Sonny Smith: 100 Records Project Volume 1. Future Stress Records has also released a 7-inch, "The Hypnotist", featuring several of Sonny's solo songs.
Tomorrow is Alright will go down as one of the best albums of the year, regardless of what year you consider it in. It's soul meets doo-wop meets surf pop and lo-fi, riding the waves with Best Coast and Free Energy. The song, "Too Young To Burn" is an anthem for our generation, declaring and reassuring loyalty to ones self. It's what we need to be telling ourselves right now when times are shitty: fuck it, you already know you're going to make less than your parents, do whatever you want. Maybe it won't work but at least you did it, and if nothing else you still have rock 'n' roll.
The first time I saw Sonny & the Sunsets live (at Spaceland in LA) they just barely made the gig after breaking down in the dessert. The sound guy rigged the mics all whack, one mic was broken for half the set and nobody had arrived early to see the unknown band, which made it nearly impossible to muster any creative energy. But the second time (also at Spaceland) they played to warm up the crowd at Ty Segall's record release show and their sound took off. They are great musicians, they have an amazing energy with each other, and they have fun. Some of the songs are absurd and sometimes their stories on stage are ridiculous and goofy, but it all shows a vulnerability and a light-hearted and witty way of showing how we are all insecure. We are all worried about something but we are all standing here together, so we might as well dance, be loud, be goofy, and have fun.
Sonny & Co. started a national tour last weekend to support the re-release of Tomorrow is Alright and Wednesday they make their way to TT the Bear's with Kelley Stoltz and Samantha Crain. I highly recommend buying the album and checking them out live.
Sonny & the Sunsets
w/ Kelley Stoltz, Samantha Crain
WED 9/29, 9PM, $10
TT The Bear's
Central Sq., Cambridge