Sundodger – Bigger Waves
Seattle. With just one mention of the city, music fans are instantly filled with images of iconic 90’s pop culture. The city’s insular underground music scene broke into the mainstream at the turn of the decade and hasn’t stopped producing thoughtful, poignant work ever since. Whether it be in grunge, jazz, hip-hop, noise music, garage rock or anything else, you’re bound to find it in the queen city of the Pacific Northwest, and recently I happened to come upon one of the more exciting acts out of the 206 that I’ve heard in sometime. Sundodger are every bit the stylish rock band that you would expect to emerge from the West Coast, but in their new album Bigger Waves, we’re treated to something far more transcendent than your typical rip-roar heavy rock group.
Bigger Waves starts off drenched in fuzz with the raucous “Too Much Too Soon,” which adequately sets the pace for this tightly wound collection of primal rock catharsis. There’s a rebellious, somewhat punk rock-influenced demeanor to this track and the bulk of Bigger Waves, but there isn’t any of the self-righteousness that has become associated with (and unfortunately plagued) post-hipster alternative acts. A smoothness guides us from song to song in the style of a progressive rock album, but the stripped down nature of the music dilutes any sort of overindulgence that could become an issue with an album as ambitious as this. “Like Me” is a good example of stylized rock at its finest, while “Last Stand” serves to highlight all of Sundodger’s carefully balanced musicianship.
There are opportunities in this record for the band to go off the rails. The giant riffage that is embedded into the whole of Bigger Waves would certainly be a lot more devastatingly impactful in a live setting, but nonetheless the energy of a stellar stage show is captured in these ten tracks without becoming overwhelming or suffocating. I’m actually of the opinion that the studio is where a band like Sundodger are able to explore all of their capabilities without restriction more than anyplace else. Bigger Waves, in that sense, is a glimpse deep inside the minds of the talented musicians who made it, albeit a brilliantly overdriven one.
I highly recommend that rock fans, specifically of the college radio persuasion, take a close look at what Sundodger is doing for music at the moment. Their approach is simple, their music mammoth. Sundodger is making unpolished, unrestricted rock that is as unforgiving and hazy as the city that they call home, and among all of the trash that currently pollutes FM radio waves, their sound stands apart as both unique and addictively accessible. I look forward to seeing what else they produce in the years to come.