By Trevor Morrison
Young, NYC-based band Sunflower Bean have a lot to brag about. For one, they’re all either going to high school at this moment or they just graduated high school, were deemed the “hardest-working band of 2014” by OhMyRockness.com, their bass player, Julia Cumming, is a model for Saint Laurent, and their EP release party back at the beginning of February was absolutely packed. This is only after having four or so songs in digital existence. I’d say that’s building a good reputation.
Now, we have a full EP from the band. The good news: it’s fantastic. The bad news: there’s only two new songs on it: “Somebody Call A Doctor” and “OK Mr. Man.” The other four songs have been put out on 7”’s that the band has put on their bandcamp page. So in a way, this is the setup to be a letdown. On the contrary, it’s actually a conveniently packaged collection of the previous songs, put together with two new, absolutely stellar songs.
Sunflower Bean’s style is that of a thick psychedelia mixed with touches of jangly post punk/new wave, complete with warping, billowing guitar textures that make pedal nerds drool a little bit and all the reverbed vocals that you could ask for. Cumming and guitar player Nick Kivlen trade off on vocals, which makes for a nice dynamic that adds well to the foggy trip that’s laid down through the instrumentals. They hold an air of retro psychedelic and jangle rock, because that’s unavoidable, but it’s clear that this is rooted in modern psych rock tropes.
Take the song “Tame Impala” for instance: the band has said that the song is a play off of the band Tame Impala naming one of their songs “Led Zeppelin,” probably because it sounds like a Led Zeppelin song. “Tame Impala” definitely has a few things that the band Tame Impala would do, like echoed vocals and absolutely viscous guitars. I’m telling you, these guitars are just like syrup, so slow and sticky, but really accessible at the same time. Then there are some guitar tones that sound like they were ripped right off a Smiths album, which is really cool because the Smiths are such a good band.
What the world really needs now is a full-length from this buzz band. A basket full of new material would definitely make the world happier, I bet. Also, I need to see this band again. Once was really not enough.
Trevor Morrison is the Music Director of WHUS. His show An Empty Bliss can be heard Monday nights from 10pm-12am. He also has the Thursday from 4pm-5pm chunk of New Spins Radio. All of this can be heard on whus.org or 91.7 FM.