[Photos courtesy of Bleary Eyed Brooklyn]
Sonny & the Sunsets don’t make it entirely clear whether they want you to take them seriously. In the “yes” column you’ve got frontman Sonny Smith’s lifelong musicanhood and decade-long history of releasing records, many of which are of estimable quality. Smith’s latest, the aptly-titled Longtime Companion, arrives on 180-gram yellow vinyl and sounds like a well-worn LP you’ve had in your collection for years. An instant old friend, of sorts.
But then, you have to take into account a freewheeling show like their recent visit to Mercury Lounge, where a Smith, calling himself “El Borracho” (“the drunkard”), played a loose, at-times shambling set that offered up antics and anecdotes aplenty. Sonny comes off like a damaged Dylan, married to equal parts Robert Earl Keen and Todd Snider. Country-rootsy on acid and Jameson, Sonny seemed thrilled to spend a significant chunk of the playing in the crowd, looking at his bemused band members onstage. Smith covered material from the three Sunsets albums, including the standouts “Dried Blood”, “My Mind Messed Up” and “Too Young To Burn”. Smith plays with the fearlessness of someone whose musical career hasn’t always gone easy; much like his music itself, he is raw and compelling. After about an hour of the band’s regular set, Sonny decided to take things into stranger territory, including a lengthy beat-esque piece about aliens. The set closed out with “Love Among Social Animals” and “Planet of Women”. Sonny may have his tongue planted firmly in cheek at times, but that’s ultimately part of his charm. As with his much-talked-about art piece “100 Records” where Sonny made, yes, 100 45s paired with various images, he is willing to take risks, and more often than not, they succeed.
I recorded this set with Schoeps MK41 microphones and a flawless soundboard feed from Kevin, the club’s head engineer. The sound is excellent, though you will notice the emphasis on the soundboard increasing toward the end as the crowd gets chattier (read: more drunk). Enjoy!
Stream “Dried Blood”
Stream “Too Young to Burn”
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Sonny & the Sunsets
New York, NY USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Schoeps MK41>KC5>CMC6>Aerco MP-2 + Soundboard>>Edirol R-44 [OCM]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audition CS 5.5 (mixdown, parallel compression)>Audacity (set fades, tracking, amplify, additional EQ, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 1:18:05]
01 [Intro banter]
02 I See the Void
04 Bad Vibes and Evil Thoughts
05 [unknown1 “Shivers Down My Spine”]
06 Death Cream
08 Reflections On Youth
10 Sea of Darkness
12 Dried Blood *
14 My Mind Messed Up
16 Teenage Thugs (Cabezas Cortades)
19 Heart of Sadness
20 Too Young to Burn *
22 [Martian Poem]
23 Love Among Social Animals
25 Planet of Women