Release Date: Apr 12, 2011
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
SONNY & THE SUNSETS play Sneaky Dee’s on Sunday (July 24). See listing Rating: NNNN Like many of his San Francisco peers, the absurdly prolific Sonny Smith writes songs quicker than he can record them. It's easy to mistrust his music as tossed off - especially considering his laconic, stoned-sounding vocals - but when the melodies are as endearing and addictive as these, it's hard to care about that.
Sonny Smith is a prolific songwriter. Understatement. Coming off the massive 100 Records project, where he wrote and recorded 200 songs in a year, most people would have taken a few years off to regroup. Smith didn’t even slow down, and with Hit After Hit, he’s turned in the best record of his career.
The ridiculously fertile San Francisco garage-pop scene is full of people who crank out vast amounts of music and who sound like they're having fun doing it. And much of the time, Sonny Smith seems to be making more music and having more fun than anyone else. About a year ago, his band Sonny and the Sunsets released the sweet, inventive album Tomorrow Is Alright, and Smith then followed it up with his "100 Records" art installation, in which he wrote and recorded an absurd 200 songs for 100 fictional bands.
San Fransisco’s garage-pop scene is like a shark: it needs to keep moving to stay alive, and it does so aggressively. Except in the case, instead of swimming and eating fish, the Bay Area bands need to keep making music. And no one knows that any better than Sonny Smith and the Sunsets. Among many other more concrete side projects, Smith recorded a project called 100 Records, in which he produced a song for each of one hundred bands that he had come up with.
Whether through innate temperament or calculated design (though it’s likely the former), Sonny Smith is as charming a lo-fi frontman as you’re going to find these days. Over the course of two albums billed to Sonny and the Sunsets—2009’s Tomorrow Is Alright and now Hit After Hit—he’s already mastered the friendly-and-ramshackle-but-perfectly-idealized-garage-pop aesthetic. (And if you heard about his recent “100 Records” art installation, you know he’s a busy dude and if he wasn’t careful, could slip into rote, assembly-line pop.