Record Review: Sonny & The Sunsets

Sonny & The Sunsets
Hit After Hit
San Francisco, CA

“San Francisco native crafts ironic blend of ’60s surf pop”

Singer/songwriter Sonny Smith has crafted 11 tracks of gritty ’60s-era surf pop for the indie rock crowd. Sonny’s style sounds like The Beach Boys playing through broken Sears guitar amps, with Rocky Erickson handling the vocal arrangements. Tunes like “Pretend You Love Me” and “Reflections on Youth” bop along as if headed straight for the dance floor, while tracks like “Teenage Thugs” and “Don’t Act Dumb” have a bad-boy garage-rock swagger that can groove along with the best of them. With male and female “oohs” and “aahs” as well as an old organ to round out the arrangements, Hit After Hit is a great example of vinyl production for the iPod generation.

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The best part of Sonny’s formula is arguably his deadpan vocal delivery. The lyrics tend to be both simple and naïve, however when coupled with Sonny’s vocal style, the listener begins to feel like The Sunsets are a little more self-aware than they’d like to let on. This begs the question: are The Sunsets the party band we’ve all been waiting for? Or are they simply here to give us a melancholy glimpse of when life was simpler and music was nothing more than the soundtrack to a day at the beach? (Fat Possum)

Engineered and mixed by Alex Laipenieks // Assistant engineer Tyler Jensen // Recorded at Owl Sight, Oakland, CA

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