Sunshine Riot is a breath of fresh for alot of us who just can’t wait for this harsh winter to be over. Maybe it’s a bit naive of me to put it like this, but the group’s mission is definitely clear. They’ve been described as Johnny Cash meets Curt Cobain and their relentless touring across the country is garnering them an ever growing fan base of college students and fans of original music that doesn’t suck. Their latest offering is “A Fresh Bottle and A Brand New Day”.
The album kicks off with “Norfolk County Jail” an allout cowpunk rocker with big guitars and vocal harmonies that are surprising to those who grew up listening to this type of music. The bass playing is especially fiercesome on this track.
Next up is “Natural Causes” which howls ‘ohhhh I’m so alooone’ and a slow 3 chord chord progression ala Green Day cover of ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
“Cotton Fevour” continues the slowburn altcountry blend with a Social Distortion bent. It picks up just enough and the distorted vocals are just what the doctor ordered to keep it legit. Leather jackets and rolled up jeans everywhere will approve. Just remember to keep the Lucky Strikes rolled IN the sleeve.
“Old Soul Blues” begins as an acoustic number and with the singers grungy voice, offers a nice diversion into other genres without going overboard. It’s part Nirvana and party Johnny Cash, this is where the descriptions begin to make sense. Very midwestern sounding. Reminds me of bands I heard alot on college radio and clubs that supported local original music back in Michigan. These guys would do well [and probably do already] in Detroit and Grand Rapids.
“Quicksand Love” is a happy little pop punk that’s part Dead Milkmen and part [insert your favorite fave altband here]. It jumps back and forth between quick hop punk and mid tempo altrock, it’s hard to define but worth a spin for the adventurous.
“Liz Stone featuring Carl Smitty Smooth” is a back and forth singing duo featuring Carl Smitty Smooth, and I must say that whoever Carl Smitty is, he’s a darn fine singer, a bit of Cee-Lo Green with alot of soul. While the song might seem a bit out of place on this album, it IS a cool song.
“Senorita Punk” is a skate punk tune that sounds like it’s straight from the 80’s hardcore punk days. You know, 3 chords and a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor and rants about government or an exgirlfriend.
“Margaret Mae” starts off as an interesting plucky chord series before drums and bass drop in with the opening line ‘Margaret Mae…’
“Boxcar Cowboy” is one of those definitive cowpunk tunes that every altcountry bands should have, it’s crafty and downright awesome… plus bonus points for writing about getting on a train.
“Sweet Kerosine” could have honestly been a leftover from an old Nirvana album. Which feels out of place here, but not in itself a bad song.
The album closes with “Home” which is an unusually uplifting song, considering the type of songs featured on this. But in a way it’s good to close on a high note. Overall, Sunshine Riot is a respectable and with some continued exploration could become one of those bands to watch. Definitely a talented bunch in my book. And I’ve read ALOT of books!
Douglas Garnett – firstname.lastname@example.org