by Chris Nunley
Hometown pride…it’s a rare and endearing quality seldom found in Phoenicians. And, even more rare it seems, is the ability to translate that pride into a tangible medium. Your home turf must have a pulse and true grit in order to encapsulate its pure essence.
There is undoubtedly only one place in the Valley of the Sun that has a bona fide spirit that will make doubters of the music scene stand up and take notice. Welcome to Sunnyslope, home of Onus Records and birthplace of their new Sound Explosion compilation. Unlike the nauseating You Heard Us Back When series served up at Zia Records, Sound Explosion obliterates musical rubbish with a blue-collar mentality and powerful song selection. Fluff isn’t needed nor will be tolerated in Sunnyslope!
First and foremost, the arrangement couldn’t be any more perfect. Sound Explosion plays out similar to a mixtape given to your high school crush, timeless singles in a dive bar jukebox, or a soundtrack to an unmade Tarantino film, taking you deep into the heart and soul of an area only 9 square miles. Perfect for any occasion, there really is no bad time to listen to this album…it’s THAT good. No Volcano’s “The Long Game” puts you in the driver’s seat and sets the cruise control to 45 with the windows down in your primer gray Datsun. Ttypes’ “The Shing” sounds like a great track from First Love, Last Rites accidentally left on the cutting room floor. Wes & the Westdales channel both James Brown and Howlin’ Pete at the start of “Tightening Your Grip On Me”, later proclaiming that “Chipotle makes the tightest burritos this side of Dunlap.” It’s good to hear hometown pride thrown in for flavor on this track…now I’m hungry. As I walk into said Chipotle, “Epic Love Fail” keeps my feet tapping in the waiting line while I decide on either chicken or barbacoa.
Like any great mix, there has to be a coffee shop moment. “I’ve Known Her To Be That Way” takes the listener back to the sound of The Delfonics, brimming with great harmonies and a pleasant mixture of guitars and synths. Brilliantly following is Dutch Holly’s “Hey”, a beautiful hybrid of acoustic and electronic instrumentation with melancholy lyrics sure to draw a tear or two.
One of my personal favorite tracks comes in the swanky sleaze, cabaret-esque “The Last Man On Earth”. Harrison Hufman’s “Sarsaparilla Lillian” echoes a similar feel to BORNS’ “Electric Love”, but the monotone spoken word gives separation, “and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.” Keeping it real with twangy bluesy roots, The Breakup Society’s “All The Integrity Money Can Buy” proudly proclaims that “credibility is good for the street, and that’s where we’ll live if we can’t make ends meet.”, but then admits to themselves that “they’d miss a thing or two of the world they knew.” if things got so low. This couldn’t be more true to the history of Sunnyslope’s citizens of long past…a great track.
D3PTHS throws the curveball into what has been a rock compilation to this point with the all electronic “All I Have Is Music”. Chopped up vocal samples, glitchy effects, a myriad of drum loops and ambient atmospherics are worthy of rotation from DLUX radio to the snobbiest clubs of Scottsdale. The Sunnyslope Strings provide the closing credits score to this magnum opus with “General Time Horizon”. As the song fades out and the lights are about to come up, you may wonder…”To be continued…?” Let’s hope so.
All in all, this is a great album front to back. Every song was carefully selected and each track sounds clean and well produced. My hats off to Tommy Globbit and everyone at Onus Records. As for the other bands in the surrounding areas of Phoenix, take notice. Sunnyslope has put you in check.
To celebrate the release of Sound Explosion, Onus Records will be hosting an event this Saturday, Sept. 19th, at Last Exit Live. Banana Gun, No Volcano, Field Tripp, The Breakup Society, and Serene Dominic & the Gemseekers are set to perform so you don’t want to miss out. More information about that event can be found here. Until then, listen to Sound Explosion from Onus Records here.