Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary

sunnyRating: ★★★★½

Long before emo was a curse word that you said to your friends, there were brilliant bands that were making the new genre respectable. Yes, 1994, and the music was absent of the whining and glam make-up.  Only one band really stands out in the early years, or at least has the ability to withstand the years of badmouthing: Sunny Day Real Estate. Diary was their debut, and although they may not have been able to top it, it’s the one album that stands the test of time, forever cementing the band’s legacy.

One of the most outstanding landmarks on this album is the superb drum work of William Goldsmith.  His drums fills are technically tight, and he sounds as if he hits harder than anyone else around. Each time the cymbal crashes, you can’t help but fall in love. Just listen to his work on the album opener, “Seven,” and you will be sold.  If not there, move to the next track, and the next; you will only gain more respect for Goldsmith as an underrated drummer.

One of the unique elements of Diary is the ability for the band to move back and forth between their soft and hard moments.  As the powerful “In Circles” comes to an end, you’re greeted by “Song About an Angel.”  It begins with singer Jeremy Enigk’s melancholy gentleness sort of wooing the listener, but steadily the band builds.  Enigk’s sparkling shriek breaks in, crashing upon your ears just as hard as Goldsmith behind his drum kit.

And herein lies the secret of the band’s success, even back during the early days of emo. Jeremy Enigk was, and remains, one of the most dynamic singers ever to walk the stage.  When he sings on key, you can immediately discern the power of his pipes, but he’s not a one-trick pony.  Let him break through with his recognizable belting, and you’ll see just why he captivated so many people for so long.

For me, looking back on this album, one of the aspects I love the most come in songs like “Rounds” or the aforementioned “Song About an Angel.”  Slowly, the band walks into a song, barely moving you, resting quietly on Enigk’s vocals.  Soon, the pace begins to pick up, bursting forth into an eruptive chorus.  And somehow, they even manage to break the formula near the end of the song, steering clear of the chorus altogether.  It all comes to rest upon Enigk’s voice.

We should be thankful that such an album was made, and even more grateful that Sub Pop opted to re-release the band’s work, with bonus tracks no less.  You can now find yourself vinyl copies of some of the most revered albums of the early 90s.  If you missed getting into Diary back in the day, then now is your chance.  Do it for yourself, and you’ll be happy.  If you happen to own it already, revisit, and you’ll gladly find that the band is more than nostalgia.  Sunny Day Real Estate sounds interesting and unique even today.

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Download: Sunny Day Real Estate – 48 [MP3]

Sunny Day Real Estate – LP2

sdre_lp2Rating: ★★½☆☆

Sunny Day Real Estate’s then posthumous second album Sunny Day Real Estate (or LP2 or The Pink Album) has always been regarded, at least to myself, as a mysterious album.  It was largely recorded after the band had already disbanded, frontman Jeremy Enigk and guitarist Dan Hoerner never completely finished writing the lyrics, and when it came time to turn in the album artwork, the band opted for the ominous pink cover (is it possible for pink to be ominous?) and simple song titles.

After falling in love with the band from listening to their debut, Diary,  I eagerly ran out to by this album the week it came out (Fun Fact: LP2 was actually one of the first CDs I bought after getting my drivers license) and listening to the open track ‘Friday’ I was thrown off.  Gone was the propulsive emotive rock I got used to on Diary, only to be replaced with mid-tempoed far-eastern influenced rock. My sixteen year old heart was distraught.

I struggled through the next couple of tracks, ‘Theo B’ and ‘Red Elephant’, knowing, at the time, that this was the last album this band would ever produce , and feeling a sense of disappointment in the bands swan song.  But on track four ‘5/4’ something clicked, the fragility in Enigk’s vocals and the instruments carrying it the first half of the song gave way to completely different band.   I played the hell out of that CD, loving every song on it, from 1:45 mark in ‘5/4’ on.  Later, after the release of the bands first post-break-up album, How It Feels to be Something On, it’s clear to see the transition the band was going through on LP2; relying less on the classic indie rock tropes and venturing out in to more atmospheric rock. 

That album deserves five stars.

This, the 2009 reissue, of LP2, deserves much less fanfare.  I don’t want to call this a cash grab, because really how much cash is to be made on Sunny Day Real Estate, but with the limited recordings in the bands repertoire is such a release warranted?  Sure, the album sounds better than it ever has, and the two bonus songs (‘Spade and Parade’ & ‘Bucket of Chicken’) are nice additions, but in today’s download friendly world, they are just a click away.  I have never listened to this album, or Diary for that matter, and dreamed of a remastered edition, I took it for what it was: a fantastic album that sounded great and was ahead of it’s time.  I would be much more excited about the remastering of Fugazi’s first several albums or the remastering of The Jesus Lizard’s first four albums (NEXT WEEK!).

But I have no ill will towards these guys.  They are embarking on their first tour with the original line up in years, and hopefully these reissues will pull in new blood into the fold of Sunny Day Real Estate fans, and hopefully they will release a new album that will erase The Rising Tide from our collective memories.

Go see the old-timers at La Zona Rosa on October 7th 2009

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Download: Sunny Day Real Estate – 5/4 [MP3]

From The Closet: Sunny Day Real Estate

sunny-day-real-estate If you haven’t listened to Sunny Day Real Estate, or at least heard of the much heralded band, then you must have been hiding under a huge rock.  Not only was the band one of the most influential early emo bands, but they put out a few records that were nearly perfect, before parting ways.  But, the band is back, and they will be playing at La Zona Rosa on October 7th.  Sure, it will be an older crowd, but this is definitely a must see show for all indie fans. Dare I say it’s more important to me than My Bloody Valentine earlier this year? I do. Go buy Diary.

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