Suckers – Candy Salad

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Candy Salad is the sophomore effort from one of my favorite acts, Suckers.  My first few weeks with the record were tumultuous; I just couldn’t wrap my ears around the slightly polished and less erratic tunes.  But, I’m dedicated to these dudes, and that sort of dedication definitely paid off in the long run.  This record might not be as effortlessly brilliant as Wild Smile, but get to know the album and you’ll find it might even win you over more.

When “Nowhere” starts off, the first thing that really stuck out to me was the absence of Brian Aiken on drums; this track doesn’t have too much of a defined percussive element to it (nor oddball intensity).  That being said, the way the rise of the vocals when we’re “going nowhere” warrant some accolades; it’s a perfect pop moment. Those heightened sort of bursts continue with the stomping “Figure It Out,” but while I enjoy the sonic construction, it seems a bit rudimentary for Suckers.  That’s the issue some might make with this record, but you’ve got to seek out some brilliance that hides within.

For instance, I thought “Bricks to the Bones” was just another of those such tracks, that’s until I got to the third minute of the track.  You’ll get soaring vocals, and the ecstatic pop you’ve come to expect from these dudes. It leads perfectly into the standout jam, “Chinese Braille.”  After a few moments of pulsing you get the Suckers trademark whistling; I think they’re the best at incorporating a good whistle into a jam. For me, this song definitely embodies more of the spirit that I would have expected on Candy Salad; it’s a little bit quirky, still holding onto a certain brightness. Admittedly, I needed more of this sort to completely fall in love.

Much like this first half of the record, there are elements of joyousness for every music fan at the center of these songs, but I guess in the end they lack a little bit of the frivolity that was present on Wild Smile.  “Charmaine” is one of the few tracks that truly seems to capture the live essence of the group, and that’s one of the things (for us at ATH) that made their first effort so addicting.  With this group and their more than memorable live shows you need to capture that spirit in a recording, but these songs seem a touch subdued.  Take another great track from the record like “Turn On the Sunshine,” a joyous song in every sense, but you all know it could be far more killer if Quinn just exploded into the microphone; he’s done it exceptionally well in the past.  Still, you can count this as an otherwise pretty solid track on Candy Salad.

Looking back on the roughly 45 minutes of Candy Salad, you can see that there’s shining moments of exuberant pop, the sort you’ve come to expect from these guys.  But, such moments are hiding in places and absent in others, which leaves you wanting a whole lot more from the group on their second effort.  If you’re a fan of Suckers, you know the band is capable of great things, it’s just that this round they didn’t quite get there, giving us a good effort, but not the great one we expected.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/04-Chinese-Braille.mp3]

Download:Suckers – Chinese Braille [MP3]

FT5: Albums Of The Year (So Far)

Seems like this time of year everybody makes their own version of the best of (so far) albums list.  You think we’d sit back and let everyone else have all the fun?  Think again.  I’ll get this out of the way now and say that this is MY list.  This is in no way a comprehensive list created by all us ATH staffers.  This is ‘ol RayRay’s list full of what I’ve been spinning this year more than anything else.  Now obviously it’s difficult for a music writer to condense a list down to just five, so some very worthy albums will be left off this list.  Of course we’ll put our heads together and make a huge list at the end of the year… Follow the jump for full list.

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Suckers – Wild Smile

Rating: ★★★★½

For over a year, people (including us) have been salivating at the thought of having a full-length album from Suckers.  Finally, the time for Wild Smile is upon us, and it will go down as one of the top records of the year, fulfilling on all the promises and praise.  There’s no way around it; this record is fantastic.

“Save Your Love for Me” opens the album slowly, almost dragging out the melodies while the band introduces you to their gang-vocal approach that will woo you throughout the duration. Around the 3+ minute mark, the band bursts into a little bit of a yelp and high pitched squeal, offering up another dynamic to listeners.  Then it fades softly away, bringing you into “Black Sheep.”  As soon as the hi-hat is kicking, and those guitar chords cut in, your bobbing your head, tapping your feet, ready to memorize the words so you can sing along.  When Quinn Walker goes off, you get a sense of the wildness that goes along with their tunes, and their live shows.

Suckers aren’t just a group intent on blasting you away with in-your-face melodies; they can offer restraint at times.  You’ll find “You Can Keep Me Running Around” builds the groove in a rather slow manner, and still the dynamic of the band’s vocal approaches keeps your focus on the enjoyment at hand.  Similarly, “King of Snakes” has a sharp guitar line that slowly walks itself through the song, while various layers slowly build themselves into the song.  Careful listeners of Wild Smile will appreciate the variance in the song sequence, as the moments that let up slightly, allowing you room to breathe, certainly serve their purpose, all the while offering great music for your ears.

Although the entire album is superb, there will always be a standout track or two that simply rise above the rest.  “A Mind I Knew” is one of those songs, building slowly from the start until the rest of the song starts to catch up with the vocals.  It sort of stays there for a minute or so, but the band is intent on providing the maximum listening experience, as the gang-vocals rise in the middle creating an enjoyable sense of cacophony that grooves and bangs all the way to the end.  Personally, the one-two punch of “It Gets Your Body Movin'” and “Martha” are my favorite recorded moments of music to come out this year.  Part of me attaches that with the incredible live performance of the former I’ve witnessed on several occasions, and the fact that the recorded version aligns itself with my memories make it a wonderful piece of pop.  “Martha” is nothing short of exuberant fancy.  If you can refrain from bobbing your head and tapping those toes here, then you’ve won some sort of promise.  This track attaches to every happy muscle in your body, encouraging you to use them all at once.

One could go on and on about how amazing Wild Smile is as a complete album, but then again, those are just the words of an obsessed scribe.  Suckers have constructed album that you must absorb on your own, create your own reactions and be carried away by its power.  Rarely do we get to experience records like this that push boundaries and encourage exploration that will differ from person to person, but rest assured, all reactions will be positive, as these songs ask for nothing if not positivity.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/05-A-Mind-I-Knew.mp3]

Download: Suckers – A Mind I Knew [MP3]

More New Tunes from Suckers

We’re sure you’re probably tired of hearing about Suckers from us, as we’ve been fawning over the group for what seems like ages, but we can’t help ourselves.  As the June 8th release date of their album Wild Smiles draws near, the anticipation can only build.  This is going to be a contender for album of the year, we can promise you that, and luckily there is a new single for you to take a listen to today.  “A Mind I Knew” shows their versatility, as it’s not the adrenaline fueled punch you got from “Black Sheep,” but the emphatic breakdown over the track’s last minute just goes to show you why we love this band so much.  You should too.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/05-A-Mind-I-Knew.mp3]

Download: Suckers – A Mind I Knew [MP3]

New Music From Suckers

The timing for this new Suckers jam couldn’t have hit more perfectly after we yet again loved their live show during SXSW.  This tasty little jam, “Black Sheep”, will appear on the Brooklyn boys debut LP Wild Smile due out June 8th on Frenchkiss records.  Seriously peeing my pants in anticipation for this record.  (Thanks P4K)

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Suckers-Black-Sheep.mp3]

Download: Suckers – Black Sheep [MP3]