Categories
Pop Sunday

Underwater Sunshine / Suckertree

Underwater Sunshine

Suckertree (Futureman)

https://futuremanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/suckertree

Music fans residing in the Vancouver, British Columbia area during the mid to late nineties were no doubt aware of Underwater Sunshine. A hot live attraction, the band put money earned from gigs towards recording an album.

A major label expressed interest in signing Underwater Sunshine, but unfortunately things did not proceed as planned. The band dispersed, and the album cocooned in the can. Yet the story has a happy ending. Having not been in contact since dismantling nearly twenty-five years ago, the band members reconnected in 2020. The tapes of the album were retrieved, and now Suckertree is available. Containing all original material and recorded in a basement, the album serves as a totally self-sufficient affair. 

Treading the fine line between power pop and stadium rock, Suckertree is coated front, center and back with buzzing  guitars, solid drumming and stimulating hooks. Pure and tidy vocals, bolstered by muscular amplification, allow some of the songs on the album to sound like a heavier version of Shoes. Reflections of The Posies also can’t be missed, not to mention Oasis and Sloan.

While Suckertree may be a product of its time, these songs still hold up extremely well. From the opening cut – Verse 2 to the final number – Spin Around – the album bristles with energized instrumentation and hard-hitting melodies that go on and on. Gripping arrangements, sweeping rhythms and insistent breaks further characterize Underwater Sunshine’s vision. 

Along with the already noted songs, Backward Glance, Shine, It’s You and Smoke & Mirrors lock in as other electrifying efforts emphasizing the band’s harmonious chemistry. Less rocking, but equally effective, there’s the crisp shimmer of Baby Blue and the absolutely unforgettable Rusted Crown, which burns with a moody intensity. 

Had Suckertree been released when intended to be, Underwater Sunshine would have surely set the charts alight with their catchy brand of industrial-strength guitar pop. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

Jeremy Morris and Ken Stringfellow / Distant Dream

Jeremy

Distant Dream (JAM Records 2021)

 It is always a thrill when our favorite musicians stage a collaboration. Distant Dream is a such a project, which features the pairing of illustrious solo artist Jeremy Morris – and frontman of The Jeremy Band and member of The Lemon Clocks – and Ken Stringfellow, whose shining credits include The Posies, the reformed Big Star, REM and The Minus 5, as well as a solo career. Here on this excellent album, Jeremy takes care of vocals, guitars and songwriting duties, while Ken handles vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and production chores. 

By sharing the same work ethic and musical values, Jeremy and Ken boast an instant rapport. An affinity for sixties and seventies pop rock spurred the guys into parenting their own visionary creations that have been wowing consumers and critics since the late eighties. Although Jeremy and Ken travel in similar circles, Distant Dream marks the first time they have joined forces.

 The title track of the album is a dazzling beauty, amplified by waves of atmospheric drafts, intertwined with potent keyboard and guitar arrangements. A gorgeous glow further costumes You’re Amazing, which contains an arresting blend of blinking piano chords, vibrant melodies and a feathery chorus.

Ignited by a static beat and twitchy hooks, Alone Together gradually gives way to a wash of electrifying  guitar strokes. The clingy tune effectively communicates the boredom and loss encountered during the lockdown, where ringing rhythms mirrored by a harmonious folk pop tenor define Joy Comes In The Morning, which also references the virus crisis, but ensures the situation is only temporary and better days are ahead. 

A needling groove and a scolding tone dictate This Story’s Ended that shoots dagger-dappled lyrics at an abusive, offensive and rude individual, and the duly branded Stay Positive steps in as a lively lick of encouragement. The sole non-original number on the album is an inspired cover of Big Star’s Thirteen, a brittle ballad greased with teen romance. 

Free of fuss and focusing on tightly-laced songs tempered by power and precision, Distant Dream is every pop rock fan’s passport to paradise. Jeremy and Ken make a great team, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they continue their partnership.