What’s Howlin’? January 18th, 2018

January 18, 2018

High up on a California hill, overlooking Los Angeles from its perch is one of the most in-depth home recording studios in the city. Complete with instruments scattered along the living spaces and cables running up the walls to a second story recording console, this house doesn’t belong to an enormous band like Red Hot Chili Peppers or as a lab for some multinational record label. This is the headquarters of Sure Sure, the indie/funk/folk/pop/rock group you’ve never heard of. With the release of their self-titled debut album, Sure Sure displays the exploration, spirit, and off-kiltered approach that can eventually allow them to dominate more than just the city they watch over, but an entire indie-pop landscape. And you’re just lucky enough to get in on the ground floor.

Sure Sure contains no shortage of sounds throughout it’s 11 track run, like bright and crispy keys that overscore guitars washing in and fluttering away, plus synthesizers that bounce from spacy to buzzy within a single measure. The drums push and pull, occasionally exploding as they do in the single “Kids”. There’s even falsetto to the moon. Songs like “Giants”, “Kids” and “Koreatown” all play on the same slightly-restructured, enthusiastic piano tone and hard-hitting beats that can be appreciated by fans of Jack Antonoff and John Bonham alike. Then there’s the slow-builders like “New Biome”, “This Must Be the Place”, “lowlife”, and “Foreign Room”, all clearly pulling from 70’s dramatic artists like Elton John and Queen to structure their crescendo, while adding in flutters of resolving synth melodies, jangly funk guitar, and even some acoustic folk strumming. It’s the kind of alchemy that results in an infectiously sunny and danceable vibe over carefully constructed soundscapes. However, outliers still present themselves and what you’re left with at the end of the album is a collection that captures the band through it’s growing period, but veers off in a few different directions. The figures are present, but the photo is out focus.

What can be frustrating is that the outliers on the album—namely “Solstice Song” and the single “Hands Up, Head Down”—are by far the most interesting tracks, but sound like a different artist. The off-key, slinking bass line that eventually devolves into fuzz by the track’s end pulls you in while the warping keyboard melody sounds like some kind of demented wind chime warning of a brewing storm. The theme of public discomfort at a bar leading to an unshakeable panic attack is perfect for the music’s tone, and lines like “I try to run, but I’m molasses” and “Don’t look at those figures in the background, keep your hands up, put your head down” are a perfect way of describing this unmistakable feeling. “Solstice Song” turns that same anxiety around, with a guitar raining reverberant notes and an emotional solo onto a song that features our lonely singer wishing for the particular company of someone distant. It will be interesting to see what direction Sure Sure takes when writing their next release. If done right, the puzzle pieces will reveal a deeply-layered and unique portrait when connected.

The rest of the album’s lyrics follow the trend of mismatching the downtrodden with an uplifting tone. Questioning one’s ability to succeed, building one’s self in a new image and the exploration of life are all tackled in spurts throughout it’s 38 minute run time. Sure Sure is a highly collaborative effort of all of the group’s members, which includes Chris Beachy (vocals, keyboards), Charlie Glick (vocals, guitar), Kevin Farzad (drums, percussion) and Michael Coleman, and despite some growing pains, the album recorded on a perch in east L.A. is our What’s Howlin? Album of the Week. Catch Sure Sure from January 29th through February 10th as open as they open for Hippo Campus across the country.

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