Something is going on underground. Locals The Tiney Lights, Blue Sunshine Soul and The Naked Eyes have been recording and writing (respectively) in their basements for the last few years.
Come see what we’ve unearthed for April’s Localized at the Urban Lounge.
“Our house is your house,” says The Naked Eyes bassist Phelps, and he promptly proves it by giving me a tour of their West Ogden squat. Noticing in their basement practice space a Fender Rhodes (the mythological-tined beast I’d only heard of) and a bar in the kitchen with Zig-Zags and many an MGD bottle, I realize these guys aren’t pretending. “I see some fake shit out there, and we’re not trying to be anybody or bite anything. We’re just fucking brother’s trying to do some shit,” drummer Harper says, sporting a badass few-day-old shiner. “It’s like drawing a picture,” vocalist/guitarist Milne continues. “A combination of reality and consciousness.”
Along those lines, Andrew lets out a stream-of-consciousness rant: “We’re sure as shit sick and tired of motherfuckers trying to tell us how to do shit,” referencing what would-be-managers/advisors have proffered, “And that’s the coolest thing about this band. If bullshit happens, WE get it together –– get it right again.”
Things seem to be looking up, no blinders interfering, as the band’s recent recording at The Great West Saloon with Justin Langford proves. “It’s the first half of a full album that will be out later in the summer.” Getting slightly modest, and maintaining humility in the face of the awesome EP [see Local CD reviews] they’ve created, Milne adds, in a self-deprecating tone, “It’s bullshit, it’s called Spell Talk.” Everybody laughs, including Langford and Toni Daniels, because the recording isn’t b.s. at all, quite the contrary.
The recurring theme in conversation with these gents is the enjoyment of their music and “the process,” a very organic one they’ve cultivated in house. This house does sit in an interesting part of Ogden, as the incisors of the old-swinging city creep from the failing tunnels and gnaw at the edges of their rehearsal space/domicile. Harper explains, “A car got Molotov cocktailed at three in the morning last week, and that house across the street got shot up at six in the morning.” The band has pretty unencumbered noise restrictions, leading to the ideal late night jam session with plenty of aural exploration.
The group is relocating to Salt Lake City for the ease of playing shows, though, and is excited by the prospect. “I love it up here, but I’m sick of settling for too little,” Harper says with a hunger in his gaze for more audiences to enrapture with their bluesy toe-crunching rock. “I want to inspire people,” Phelps adds. Their energy is subtly invigorating as it combines with Milne’s end point. “Since we started this my entire life has changed. I’ve met the coolest people. I’ve been hooked up with sweet books, music, friends and fun. I don’t think this band has one downside at all.” World: welcome to the house The Naked Eyes built, and be prepared to look upon them even more.
The opening track of the new Blue Sunshine Soul album, In All of the World at Once, has strains of a street scene blending into the vocals as the track eventually slides into a comfortable ramble, a meditation on leaving and “the end.” But the end for Blue Sunshine Soul is not coming anytime soon. “It took us a while to get the band together. The actual people,” says vocalist/guitarist Dreiling. “Nobody’s going anywhere. We finally got our record out. That’s the next step where we’re at, anyway,” he concludes, referencing an upcoming tour for the local six-piece of scene mainstays and how hard it was to make such a diverse group of individuals get together in one place.
Terms such as “super group” seem to be a little trite, but what else do you call a group made up of well-known local groups Calico, Band of Annuals and The Devil Whale? Well, it’s certainly something different than what you might expect. The sound of the Blue Sunshine Soul collective taps different sides of those groups’ members and makes for a very different and unexpected sound. Although Blue Sunshine Soul has been working together for a few years, the new album is evidence that things are a little more directed now. “It only turned serious when we had to pay rent for band practice space,” vocalist and guitarist Howe says. “I feel obligated to use it. We’re spending money, so we have to show up,” he adds.
Although there may be “better” reasons to push bands forward, that one seems as good as any for all these great songwriters to get together and finish their album––one they recorded in vocalist/guitarist Taylor’s basement. “It made it very convenient,” Howe says. The songs are all very raw sounding, and Howe says turn the volume up: “In the red and you’ll be all good.” And when it is, a very good sense of how excellent this band sounds live coalesces.
When forced to pigeonhole that sound, the guys gets a little uncomfortable. “It’s hard to say––all the songs sound different,” Taylor insists. “They’re all fairly vintage sounding,” Howe affirms and continues, “I want to span categories. With four songwriters now, it’s easy to play a whole bunch of different categories.” And the album is very good evidence of that. The sounds swell at intros with occasional organ, great, driving, fuzzed-out, bluesy guitar, lap steel, multiple male vocal styles and continue into unexpected places as the fantastic glue of Hansen’s softer female touches add much-appreciated higher notes on some tracks––the best on the album. If you’ve enjoyed her sound on Band Of Annuals’ releases, then you will welcome her presence in this group.
Fortunately, Blue Sunshine Soul will be out on the road soon and have achieved their desire to finish their record, thanks to a little outside motivation. And they have just one recommendation: “Listen to it at full blast.” Howe says with a look in his eyes that says “You’ll like it.” And we do.
Watch Blue Sunshine Soul, The Naked Eyes (and openers The Tiny Lights) emerge from their cellars at The Urban Lounge April 17 at 9 p.m. As always, it’s super cheap ($5) and very accessible.