Very Wise Fools
Sun Blood Stories Sophomore Album is a Masters Class
Boise band Sun Blood Stories’ (who will be playing The Phoenix Clubhouse on Wed., August 12) first album, Electric Years, is a bonified panty-dropping asskicker of an LP, with seven tracks of raw and gutsy psychadelic garage-blues that makes hearts break and loins quiver.
“That one, we’re trying to make everyone forget about as quickly as possible,” says guitarist and founder Ben Kirby, only joking a teeny bit.
Lap-slide player and vocalist Amber Pollard even goes as far as trying to talk people out of buying it from the band’s merch box.
The reason why is that band’s freshly dropped new album, Twilight Midnight Morning is the band’s Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club moment, an album packed with so many sonic leaps and bounds forward that it makes whatever came before seem childish in comparison, even if that album was Revolver, or Electric Years.
Whereas Electric Years sounded like a killer band in the vein of The Black Keys, Kirby describes the new sound as less of a band and more of a noise orchestra, with washes of reverb and echos being summoned, shaped and wielded as independent compositions instead of just as color, and with astounding dexterity. If you threw Radiohead and The 13th Floor Elevators in a blender with a handful of ‘shrooms and The Magician’s Apprentice actively summoning the forces of nature, it might well sound like Twilight Midnight Morning.
“We didn’t really like what we were doing before,” says Kirby. “We wanted to rock less and dream more. But in turn we actually ended up rocking more.”
One of the places that dreaming/rocking push and pull is most clear is on the song “Witch Wind,” whose melody is a snaking ethereal vocal line swimming in reverb, but whose spine is a driving overdriven bass riff heavy as doom metal.
Another is the album’s first single, “NighTremor,” which oscillates back and forth between a heartbeat and a driving drum line like a dead sprint with Pollard’s gutsy vocals soaring above.
A major part of that sound was a new lineup for the album, with bassist Nik Kososik and violinist Judah Claffey joining the band, and drummer Jon Fust taking over for Brett Hawkins. But the other major component was that new lineup flipping the script on the writing process.
“Rather than writing a song and then fitting all the noises into it, we decided to come up with all the noises and then fit a song around them,” says Kirby.
That involved a lot of jamming, recording and deconstructing. Or, as Pollard puts it: “We got really really stoned a lot of times and that’s what came out of our bodies.” If that’s the case, then score one for marijuana.
Kososik says that Twilight Midnight Morning was recorded only a few months after the lineup came together, when they were just trying to put together a set to play. Consequently, he says it’s just scratching the surface of what they do, making him and the rest of the band eager to look to new material, after it wraps up its currents series of west coast tour dates.
And while that certainly bodes well for any future recordings, it also comes with the concern that the music won’t be audible on this plane of existence. Better to catch the band now, while they’re still in this reality.
Sun Blood Stories
9pm, Wed., August 12
The Phoenix Clubhouse, 310 N. Main St., Phoenix
PHOTO CREDIT: Kate Grosswiler