Review: King of the Dudes by Sunflower Bean

King of the Dudes by Sunflower BeanAcross two albums Sunflower Bean seems to have been trying on different costumes as they set out to find a sound all their own. They’ve done well at it, but somehow it seems they’re still restlessly uncomfortable, although Twentytwo in Blue riffing on the classic Fleetwood Mac sound went well for them. Now, they’ve got a new EP out, seeing them try yet another outfit – but, true to their restless form, it’s just four tracks and twelve minutes long. This time King of the Dudes sees the New York trio riff on the power pop sound of the 80s and 90s, although with enough of a modern spin to not sound out of place with the pop-rock of a whole decade later. No, this isn’t the sound of Sunflower Bean selling out. It’s fizzy, sure, but it feels potent, and it feels really exciting. Julia Cumming in particular embraces the more front-and-center role this sound gives to her, giving an extra edge to the songs. But knowing the band, this isn’t the point where it all coalesces for them. Maybe we’ll see a couple more costume changes. I hope this energy keeps up when that happens. [NB]4/5


earthings! 2018: My ten favorites of the year

It’s our very last post for 2018, which means it’s time to reveal my ten favorite songs of the year – although chances are, if you’ve been reading this blog more religiously than most, or have a good idea of what I am into, then you’d have guessed some of the songs on this list. For this year, I decided not to have a massive reckoning some time from the beginning of December (too much pressure, that) but instead made up this list as the year went along. It didn’t make it easier: the tenth song (again, this list is in alphabetical order) was added just a few days ago, and that was a song I actually took off the list. I won’t tell you what that is… [NB]

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Review: Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean

Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower BeanSunflower Bean seem to like taking things slow, whether it’s because they’re just young and not really rushing to take over the world (although arguably they’re closer to that than most of us) or because they’re supposed to be, you know, cool kids from New York. Twentytwo in Blue, their latest record, pushes the narrative (and the hyphen, outwards) further: in contrast to their debut full-length Human Ceremony, here they dig through the rock and roll canon, channeling their inner Fleetwood Mac (even more evident on “I Was A Fool”) without, for now at least, the strife that defined it. It sounds warmer and older, but at the same time, it sounds just like what they used to before, only, well, more vintage. So not much of a push to the narrative, then. But then this isn’t the album that’s going to make them superstars: they seem to be content just making music, taking their time. At least this time they’ve somewhat ditched the glossy kind of cool and embraced the gritty sort that tends to be more evergreen. But we’ll see in a few years. [NB]3/5

Anglophile in New York #8: One night in the Big Apple, we all went British

There was a time Niko and I never ever talked about Asian pop, even though we are both Asian. We were always talking about stuff like the Mystery Jets, Suede, and Ocean Colour Scene. This article is dedicated to our musical origins; and we must never forget them, EVER.

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“It’s never ringing out.”

“Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean | Boom. In one week, Sunflower Bean – a band I have never heard about, and this is regardless of my well-cultivated reputation for being late to buzz bands – exploded. Suddenly all the radio stations I listen to are just talking about them: the folks at Monocle 24, the folks at FBI in Sydney, all the American noncomm triple As I listen to. Sunflower Bean’s been around for a few years, released an EP, and just a couple of weeks ago, debuted their first full-length, Human Ceremony. It’s that mix of not-so-lo-fi with the excitement of punk and just the right amount of reverb. Do I dare compare them to Wolf Alice, though? Somewhat? People might be angry at that suggestion, because, you know, Sunflower Bean is, like, cooler, right? [NB]