Set For the Next Step
Sunday Six has been playing around town a few years now (I first caught their act at Wick's Pizza on Baxter), mixing covers with originals, building a following, etc., like all bands do. I believe it's called "paying dues."
The band's new self-titled CD shows Sunday Six with some dues behind it and some yet to be paid. I guess what I'm saying is that there is quite a lot of unrealized potential herein that I suspect we'll get to see in due time.
Specifically, the disc starts off on a note that quickly lost my interest - "Falling Into You" takes the guise of radio-ready heavy rock, kicking off with a dark melody reminiscent of early U2, but phasing into something more akin to Creed or some other requisite high-profile rock band of the '00s. When "The End of Me" crept out of the speakers on its bass line borrowed from Morphine, I thought, "Oh well." (Don't get me wrong; I like Morphine. I was simply preparing myself for something thoroughly unoriginal.)
But interestingly, Sunday Six's "sound" doesn't really start to come through until one is about halfway through the CD. Front man Spencer Gardner handles most of the vocals and writes most of the tunes (save three by bassist Donnie Sharp) and the full impression came to me by song six ("Bar Flie") that Gardner is actually more fond of melody and songcraft than I at first intoned. His Geddy Lee-like voice at times sounds out of place in the songs he writes, which actually makes for even more interesting effect.
And when he writes his version of a love song, it turns into something tortured and difficult. In a good way. "Perfect Day" opens up with a great riff that carries on it the lyric "There's no me without you," then takes the listener into the difficulty of a relationship even the protagonist doesn't quite understand: "I can't even begin to explain/Without your love I can't refrain/From being the man I never wanted to be/Open up your heart to what's inside of me." And it only gets more difficult, which helps the song build to a satisfying climax.
Sharp then follows with the power-pop rave-up "Déjà vu," putting a whole new spin on the album. What happens once you get through the entire song list is you realize these two guys make for a pretty effective yin-yang combination. (Gardner's buried "Whatever You Do" is a great change of pace as well.)
The key downside here is what can probably be attributed to a mild lack of direction. The band sounds musically solid and drummer Dave Brugioni does an exquisite job of leading it through the paces. But Gardner produced the album himself and my two cents is that he might be better served sticking to writing, singing and playing guitar and recruiting a producer that isn't so closely tied to the songs for the next recording session. Clearly, there are many more good songs still to come from this band and it will be interesting to see what heights those songs can reach once all the dues are paid up.