Live Review: The Sunks, TFOA; 3 local indie ‘supergroups’ (Breakers, Dead Letters, BareBear) tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:28 pm December 27, 2021
The Sunks at Reverb Lounge, Dec. 26, 2021.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last night’s album release show for The Sunks at Reverb was kind of packed. With Omicron running rampant, for the first time I actually felt a little squeamish about attending a show. At its peak there was probably around 60 folks in Reverb, with only a very few wearing a mask — I among them. I didn’t have it on when I went inside, but when I saw the mob, I slapped it on (I always carry a mask with me these days). Did it make a difference? Talk to me in a week.

I also had my earplugs, and I’m happy I did. Those Far Out Arrows don’t hold back, and neither did the guy behind the soundboard. For the uninitiated, the four-piece plays Nuggets-style psych rock in the grand tradition of bands like Them, The Yardbirds, Animals, early Stones, you get the picture, the kind of band you’d expect to see at Gonerfest. Their modern edge comes from the twin vocal attack of guitarists/brothers Ben and Evan Keelan-White, and the rock-hard rhythm section of playing-with-his-back-to-the-audience bassist Derek LeVasseur and drummer Brian Richardson. 

Those Far Out Arrows as seen from behind the soundboard at Reverb, Dec. 26, 2021.

The Arrows played a number of songs off their most recent album, Fill Yer Cup, (including personal favorite, “Snake in My Basement,” which is bound to become a world-wide smash hit once it’s discovered by some Netflix series music supervisor and used as the soundtrack for a road movie’s killing spree sequence). They also played a new one, which sounded like the old ones. They’re nothing if not consistent in their approach. 

The Sunks’ latest album, Wedding Season, came out last January during the height of COVID-19 and thus, never got the album release show it deserved. Since then, frontman Sean Paul has recorded an unreleased solo album (and I’ve clandestinely heard one of the tracks, which was among the best things I heard last year). The Sunks doesn’t sound like that solo stuff. Sean Paul (at times) reminds me of Susto’s Justin Osborne, who reminds me of Jackson Browne, though The Sunk’s music leans in more toward indie than Browne’s or Osborne’s Laurel Canyon-esque approach. 

It’s a laid-back album, whose highlights include the very Susto-esque “Cta” and anthemic “The Sunks Song.” At nearly an hour, it could have been pared down, but in this age of digital-only releases, bands put it all out there. The album is worth checking out, but I’m also excited about that aforementioned solo album.

Played live, the arrangements were more majestic, grander. Sean Paul (Why do I feel compelled to write his full name in all references?) is a solid frontman, was in fine voice and backed by a tight band. That said, I only made it through five songs. It wasn’t because I had to work the next day — the show began at 6 p.m. and The Sunks went on at around 8:15 — it was because I was so freaked out about Covid and the crowd. I guess I’ve seen too many mentions of people getting Omicron in my Facebook feed… 

That said, it probably won’t stop me from going to Breakers tonight at Reverb. The band, according to the 1% website, consists of guitarist Chris Yambor (Sing Eunuchs tapes back in the day, The Reports with Patrick Buchanan (of Mousetrap fame)), bassist Robert Little (Son Ambulance, The Stay Awake), and drummer Matt Focht (Head of Femur, The Faders, Bright Eyes). The site doesn’t mention who’s handling vocals, though I’m guessing it’s Focht (and I’m probably wrong). Joining them are Dead Letters (a trio consisting of two former members of Well-Aimed Arrows — drummer/vocalist Koly Walter and bassist Brian Byrd — along with guitarist/vocalist Mark Johnson from Places We Slept) and BareBear (who, last time I saw them in 2019, featured Rob Walters, Nik Fackler, Matt Focht, and Jacob “Cubby” Phillips). 8 p.m., $10. It’s the closest thing to a holiday show you’re going to get! Wear a mask…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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