Three Album Reviews – Sonny & The Sunsets, Blitzen Trapper, Callisto

Sonny & The Sunsets, Talent Night At The Ashram

sonny smith, talent night at the ashram, review

In a single word, Sonny Smith can be described as prolific. Perhaps you’d say, he’s abundant. I don’t know. Pick your synonym, because whatever you choose, it fits.

Of course, all of the ink spilled about the teeming nature of Sonny Smith’s projects would be wasted without terrific songs to back it up, and his newly released Talent Night At The Ashram certainly delivers. For those unaccustomed, Sonny & The Sunsets meld indie rock with a dose of doo-wop and country-tinged folk. There are moments of sad and biographical beauty all over Talent Night as displayed on “Alice Leaves For The Mountains” featuring a somber, fading chorus “she’s a very private girl”; the sprawling, prog-rock experiment “Happy Carrot Health Food Store” which at first feels like a thin, twee folk number only to break off in a curious instrumental talent that harkens Yes and Jethro Tull; his hallmark, infectiously bouncy, jangle guitar pop “Cheap Extensions” is a mix tape worthy gem.

A San Francisco based creative, Smith is a successful playwright and multi-media artist in addition to his musical catalog. His band, the Sunsets, serves as a curiously rotating collective of musicians bringing his unique brand of weird, wry and desolate love songs to fruition. Records like Talent Night leave you wanting to delve deeper into more of his bounteous talent.

Read more about Sonny Smith and his new release at his website.

Blitzen Trapper, Live In Portland

a0208556728_10One thing remains undoubtedly certain. Blitzen Trapper’s brand of cross-eyed, country drunk, indie rock and blues satisfies like few other concoctions down your radio dial. Their raucous live performances show that kick back, lay down on the front lawn bliss in full regalia and finally a whole set is available on their recent Live In Portland release.

Recorded at the Doug Fir lounge between November 29th and 30th of 2013, the seventeen tracks included stand as a pretty darn good representations of secret gems and fan favorites from their catalog up to that period. Opening with the dirt road cautionary tale, “Fletcher” and ending with “Street Fighting Sun” a blown out, messy full on jam masterpiece, this is a rare live album that manages to capture the band at the height of their powers. Whether live or on wax, these five guys give Portland something to boast about.

Check out Blitzen Trapper’s site for info on this release and others in their catalog.

Callisto, Secret Youth

callisto-secret-youth-cdThe lads from Callisto have proudly dubbed Secret Youth their latest, a stab into “progressive rock noise” a definition that they meet at the outset. The opening track, “Pale Pretender” comes in at just a few clicks short of seven minutes and sets the tone for a sprawling and satisfying aural cacophony.

The Finnish band, formed in 2001 crafted three proper albums prior to Secret Youth their last, Providence coming out more than five years ago. Over that half-decade interval the group has undergone some personnel changes, but their commitment to crushing, satisfying riffs went nowhere in the process. They toy with dark atmospheres all over the ten tracks, like on “Back Bone” where the guitar storm ascends to a brutal frenzy, down to “Lost Prayer” and “Acts” which are more otherworldly and transcendent.

What makes Secret Youth feel bolder to me is in the mingling of short and tonally quiet ambient pieces like “The Dead Layer” and “Old Souls”. They provide texture, pieces that assemble a greater context for all the shrieking, terror filled mayhem that follows on ensuing tracks. While I am willing to guess that Callisto isn’t something for your speed metal/thrash purist crowd, it will draw that black shirt clad, cerebral type metal out of his party corner for certain.

Want to know how to get a hold of Callisto’s new album? Check out their site, right now.