Sonny & The Sunsets – Antenna to the Afterworld

This probably hasn’t been my week. After, um, oversleeping on the train and then slipping on a patch of black ice, I think it’s either time to have one of those epiphanies where everything that has gone wrong in my life is corrected OR I just shrug it off, ignore it and go for some breakfast.

The smell of pancakes, greasy bacon and bad coffee. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Decision: sorted.

I go to the local “American Style” Diner we have in this little town of mine. It’s not the real thing and they can’t make hash browns the proper way (“smothered, diced & covered”), but you can’t always get what you want. As I make my way to the place in the early hours of this chilly Sunday morning (still snowing), I see on the road a Danny Dusk sticker on a Cadillac. I won’t look back, because I know I can never go back.

The waitress tries a fake American accent, I tell the local accent is fine and that it’s too early to put an act. She looks relieved and says there might be free refills. Good. The one thing this country is missing is bottomless cups of coffee. And proper coffee too.

As I wait for my grub, I bob my head to the sounds of Zig Speck & The Specktones, blasting from the speakers. Whatever they lack in food flavour they more than make for it in musical taste.

Huh, someone left a music magazine. I start flicking the pages around. I hate how smarmy music critics are, with their abuse of the term “relevant” and their penchant for highfalutin’ words. I think these bozos are bane on our enjoyment of tunes.

Nothing interesting so far. Oh, wait, this looks interesting. An album about an alien on Earth figuring stuff out and losing the woman of his dreams? Is it a tribute to ALF? Or Mork & Mindy?  Let’s see:

Sonny & the Sunsets – Antenna of the Afterworld.

“The concept album has been a derided medium of musical delivery in the last few decades. It will always be qualified as a gimmick or compared unfavourably to the great ones before (The Beatles, Radiohead, Pink Floyd). The concept album, the outdated dinosaur from the 70s.”

“In the case of Sonny & The Sunsets, Antenna of the Afterworld offers a concept that has been tackled before: being a fish out of water, with a spot of heartbreak and letting go. Let’s call it Ziggy Stardust’s best friend, Duckie and his Coming of Age album.”

“By using a rather lost (and forlorn) alien on planet Earth, Sonny & Sunsets take us to a world of 11 songs, where interplanetary love and the universal question of “is there life after death?” are the oft-used themes in Sonny Smith‘s songbook.”

“There’s a very intricate marriage of post punk and new wave sensibilities in the music of Sonny & the Sunsets, with a vocal delivery sporting a drawl not too far from Tom Petty‘s range. This works against and for the band, as people with an allergy to Petty (there are shots for that now) will find themselves not too enticed by the album. Fans of Petty would think there’s a nice ring to it, but that’s where similarities end.”

“Bear in mind that although it is a concept album and there is a definite progression in the story, there aren’t “movements” per se, and the music does flow with the ease of a pretty nifty album. There’s no strange segues (although there are some bits of dialogue – none too intrusive) and if you heard this album without hearing the backstory to the creation of it (death of a loved one, break ups and seances all figure in the press kit), it would sound like a normal collection of tracks with no other ambition than to sail through your ear canals, like an explorer in a Royalty-sponsored trip to lands hitherto unknown.”

“For every post punk dash of bravado (‘Dark Corners’), there are chunks of  slacker rock (‘palmreader’, ‘natural acts’) and even some moments of alt-country (‘path of orbit’ begs for a pick up truck and a ten gallon hat.) “

“You could throw many adjectives to Sonny Smith and his squad of goons. As many as the types of genres he is quite capable to play with his chums (I suggest his 100 records trilogy to get a taste of the range of the artist), but boring isn’t one that you should throw. You should just enjoy there are musicians like Sonny & The Sunsets who can take the dead remains of the concept album and make it palatable once again, without going into theatrics that might deliver a strong punch on a first impression, but that might lose its strength on repeated visits.”

Sonuvagun, I’m enjoying this. My breakfast arrives and I wolf it down, with the too diluted, tasteless coffee becoming more of a task than a pleasure. I would make up a fuzz, but I like this place.

Then the diner cook comes out and it turns out it’s Rico, a good friend of mine. He’s dead bored in the kitchen and brings out a new dish of his.  It’s sweet potato pie and he offers me a slice. I mention the lack of quality of the coffee and he winks and brings out a thermo of this primo brew he gets from a secret acquaintance. As I eat my pie, the coffee kicks in and I make several questions in a rapid fire style.

“You ever seen a U.F.O. in these parts?”

“You ever experienced a period of “missing time”?”

“You ever had the suspicion that you’ve been abducted by aliens?” 

“Have you ever found a metal implant in your body?”

“Have you checked everywhere?”

My friend smells the coffee and winks at me.

“I think it might be time for you to wake up.

I close my eyes and feel a gust of wind. I’m still in the floor, covered with flakes of snow. I remember that there is no American Diner in this one-horse town. Heck, there is a Tesco, so there might not even be a horse anymore. My plushy cow is sitting on top of a crumpled magazine. It has an article of an interesting art exhibition at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito. Should be an interesting read…

Words: Sam J. Valdés López.

Sonny & the Sunsets Website. Bandcamp. Twitter. Facebook.

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