Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: E1 Entertainment
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Rock Revival
First album in almost 50 years from Tacoma garage legends. Recorded in mono (what else?) with garage-rock guru Jim Diamond, this album will lift the spirits of those still convinced they’re 17, even if the mirror tells them otherwise.. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads.
Punk before punk, garage rock before anyone flagged it, the Sonics' 1965 Here Are the Sonics mixed Chuck Berry and Little Richard with greaseball white-boy originals. This reunion concedes nothing to the following half-century. Rob Lind still bleats sax like he's pummeling a sandbag, Jerry Roslie's howls would still make primal-scream therapist Arthur Janov plotz, and producer Jim Diamond drives Larry Parypa's stabbing guitar in deeper than ever.
If garage rock was conceived in the ’60s as the primal sound of teenage boredom, frustration, and angst, what does it mean when men in their seventies attempt to play it? There’s probably a deep and worthy discussion to be had somewhere in there, but the Sonics don’t give a shit about that, nor should they. The Tacoma band’s new release This Is the Sonics is their first studio album of all-new material in 49 years, and that fact alone is staggering. What’s even more remarkable, though, is how one of garage rock’s most legendary bands has dared to test their legend by making a record that spits, snarls, drools, honks, wails, and screams as if it were 1966 all over again.
Garage heads love The Sonics – and with good reason. In 1967, the year they last released an album, they tore up the rulebook with the likes of Psycho, The Witch and other not-really-lost nuggets, each emblazoned with the scorching vocals of Jerry Roslie. Roslie reunites here with other originals Rob Lind and Larry Parypa, backed by members of The Kingsmen and Dick Dale’s band.
Maybe they were tired of hearing thousands of bands, from the Black Lips to the Black Keys, rip off their classic garage rock sound. That has to be one of the reasons why the Sonics have decided to release their first new studio album since 1967’s Introducing the Sonics. Yes, 1967—that’s a long time ago. The good news is that this isn’t some Black Flag or Misfits situation, where maybe one original guy is present amongst a bunch of stand-ins.
The garage rock revival is pretty ubiquitous. That nostalgia well runs deep. Seemingly every week another young band comes out of nowhere to release a solid album of fiery, fun riffage and lyrical content of questionable strength. Without knowing any of the back story, one listen to This Is the Sonics would suggest that it falls right into line with that movement.
Being the toughest band on Earth in 1965 was clearly something to be proud of, but what does that mean 50 years later? Just because you could reliably kick a field goal or run a four-minute mile when you were 18 doesn't mean you'll be expected to do the same at your high-school reunion five decades on. But musicians are often judged by the standards they set in their youth, and in the 21st century, the Sonics, the frantic and ferocious garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington, whose records were among the most explosive to emerge in the '60s, have decided to make a new album and show the world how they're holding up. And the good news is, they're holding up remarkably well -- This Is the Sonics is a joyously raw blast of full-bore garage rock stomp that comes perilously close to matching the furious energy of their iconic Etiquette Records sides from the '60s, and if these guys no longer sound like teenagers whacked out on coffee and beer, they're clearly running on high-test rock & roll passion, and their formula still works like a charm.
When the Sonics last cut an LP, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Rolling Stones were redefining popular music, and the Vietnam War continued escalating. Saxophonist Rob Lind, one of three original Sonics in the current lineup, eventually shipped out to southeast Asia as a fighter pilot. Fifty years later, the Tacoma proto-punks are still recording in the red and in mono, with original producer Buck Ormsby replaced by Detroit studio genius Jim Diamond.
Formed in Tacoma in the early ’60s, before rock really got weird, The Sonics secured a place in history with “The Witch,” “Psycho,” and “Strychnine”: an unholy trinity of unhinged stompers credited with spawning punk, metal, and grunge. All three feature a muddy guitar-and-sax attack and lyrics that might read like Halloween camp were they not howled with such startling, joyful lunacy by singer and keyboardist Gerry Roslie. A half-century later, those recordings still sound subversive and bizarre in ways other ’60s garage rock doesn’t.