Friday, March 27, 2009

Sonny and the Sunsets

I don't usually review new releases here (or even write reviews, for that matter) but today when I opened the mail and found this brand new 45 by Sonny and the Sunsets sent to me from Soft Abuse Records in Minneapolis with a note asking me to write a review and a crisp $100 bill attached, I changed my tune.

No, that's not true, let's start over.

Sometime in mid 2007, I got an email from Sonny Smith saying he was enjoying the Boogie Woogie Flu, and singling out a post with music from Alex Chilton's Like Flies on Sherbert, in which I included original versions of songs, by The Bell Notes and Troy Shondell, that Chilton covered. Sonny explained that he found the blog through a friend of mine. We exchanged a few emails, and then I heard some of Sonny's songs which won me over almost immediately.

His record Fruitvale, is a collection of songs about the singer's neighborhood, populated by pimps, transvestites, drug dealers, vigilantes, good folks and bad cops as well as some lovely melodies and harmonies. It has elements of Lou Reed, Ray Davies and Eliot Smith's songwriting without really sounding like any of them or anybody else in particular.

Sometime that summer, Sonny was in New York and played a gig at the Lakeside, backed by the able rhythm section of Tony Maimone and Steve Goulding. During the set he performed a new song that bared an uncanny resemblence to "I've Had It" by the Bell Notes. Afterwards, we talked a little and he confessed that he had taken the riff from that tune that he first heard here. I invited him to come over while he was in town to listen to some records, and later that week he and our mutual friend Mike DeCapite came over and we listened for hours late into the night to mostly 45's. When going through my boxes of singles, I realized that I had two copies of "I've Had It" (one was cracked) and I bestowed my extra copy on him. I remember Sonny walking out the door later holding the damaged styrene single like it was some kind of sacred object.

Last spring Sonny and I hung out one night in San Francisco. We walked around the Mission and ended up a sitting at a broke-down, slightly picturesque, but undeniably depressing bar drinking sodas and commiserating with one another about our respective troubles. We were both in the middle of some serious shit. Sonny, at the time, was living apart from his girlfriend and young son and trying to figure out which way to go. I was experiencing a confluence of events in my life that were presented to me like a cosmic mind-fuck. Misery loves company, and there we were, two sober guys, prattling on at some dingy bar like a couple of drunks.

What am I gettng at here? The interconnectedness of things, I guess - a friend, a record, an idea, or any number of variables or coincidences that can present themselves to you like a dirty trick or a wondrous gift. Sonny has taken them to be a gift. This cool little single is the debut of his latest incarnation, Sonny and the Sunsets. It comes accompanied by a faux religious tract penned by Sonny and lovingly illustrated by Sunsets drummer Raphi Gottesman - a humorous chronicle of a spiritual crisis, and the road to redemption and reinvention.


"Strange Love" mp3
by Sonny and the Sunsets, 2009.
available on Love and Death 7"

"Stranded (on Planet Earth)" mp3
by Sonny and the Sunsets, 2009.

"I've Had It"
by The Bellnotes, 1959.
available on I've Had It: The Very Best of the Bell Notes

"Curtis on the Corner" mp3
by Sonny Smith, 2007.
available on Fruitvale

"Good Folks Bad Folks" mp3
by Sonny Smith, 2007.
available on Fruitvale

Love and Death cover art by Chris Johanson
This single is limited to 300 copies and is available HERE

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Me Worry?

My apologies for the silence of The Flu. I've been in a state of suspended digiflux - stuck between the digital world and my analog ways. I've been switching my computers and my cameras - and in my line of work, that's a major hassle - grappling with the elusive ones and zeroes that control our modern lives. That, and the timely crash of my server has kept things static. I'm still working out the bugs. I'm writing this and posting today because I care - really I do - despite what today's selections may otherwise suggest.

"I Don't Care" mp3
by Reigning Sound, 2001.
available on Break Up Break Down

"I Don't Care" mp3
by the Ramones, 1977.
available on Rocket to Russia

"Careful" (I Don't Care) demo mp3
by Television, 1975.
available on Double Exposure

"Do You Think That I Really Care?" mp3
by the Rolling Stones, 1978.
available on Place Pigalle Vol. 1

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Technical Difficulties

My server is down - both here and at my website - and apparently has been for a couple of days. The mp3 links are currently not working. This will hopefully be fixed shortly and I'll be back with a new post.

***UPDATE: 3-19

Links are again active, we are back on the air, and will return with a post very soon.