The Sonic Thrills: Get Up!
I don’t know how I missed this one last year, especially now that I realize the lead guitarist and drummer are also in The Love Me Nots (whose two releases made my best-of lists the past two years). So I guess they flew under my radar as well as yours…this would have made my best-of list had I heard it on time.
As the name suggests, The Sonic Thrills are a high-energy, fuel-injected rock’n’roll band. While I’d tag them much closer to garage rock than punk, they play with a fury that is far closer to the 77 sound. Michael Johnny Walker chainsaws some rhythm guitar alongside David Kains, but when it’s time to rip off a kinetic solo it’s flashy but compact. Drummer Jay Lien and bassist Chris Waldron absolutely pound the beat home on every cut; I would highly recommend having a defibrillator nearby if you try to perform any physical activity while this is playing.
Lead vocalist James Monarch is well-suited to the mile-a-minute pace. While not a howler, he’s forceful enough to sell songs about bad luck, bitchy women and…uhhh…closing the deal. On most songs he reminds me of Dave Gilbert, the late lead singer of The Rockets, who along with Dr. Feelgood were the first bands I thought of when I first heard this album. Both bands have solid r&b roots, a fierce sound propelled by a relentless drummer and a guitar player who is as good a rhythm player as a soloist. “I Don’t Wanna Die” might be the only song where Monarch sings like a punker, but it certainly suits the song. Hell, I don’t wanna die either! Even “Sinatra’s Ghost”, where the singer meets the spirit of Ol’ Blue Eyes in a dark smoky club, sounds like an unreleased track from The Dictators.
“Feel it shake and rumble up from the ground”, Monarch growls in “Soul”, and that’s as apt a description of the Sonic Thrills sound as anything else. This mofo starts in fifth gear and doesn’t let up until a cymbal crash thirteen songs later. Bring this stuff to the East Coast, willya?