The latest in an occasional series of reviews of recent releases by Lehigh Valley bands.
The website of Bethlehem pop band Sunday Guts features what must be the most unusual local music swag ever — guitar picks with the Lehigh Valley International Airport logo.
If you’ve never flown through LVIA (and you probably haven’t, unless you live here), it’s a charming little airport trying to climb uphill.
It’s lost a number of airlines over the past decade or so — one of which, Hooters Air, skipped town owing the airport $1.4 million. LVIA is also on the hook for a $16 million land dispute. Oh … and, having lost its occasional service to Toronto, the airport is international in name only.
What does LVIA have to do with Sunday Guts?
I have no idea, actually … because, while the airport is struggling, the band is taking off.
A week or so ago, Sunday Guts posted a new four-song EP, Leave It Go, on Bandcamp. It took a few listens to hook me, but now that I’ve gotten to know it, I highly recommend it for your next layover.
It’s bustling pop, mostly guitar-based, whose textures and sounds remind me of the ’80s. Opener “Alone In My Principles” features a classic Big Guitar Pop Hook, with a layer of chiming guitar adding contrast on the chorus.
I’ve heard both riffs somewhere before — I’m trying to figure out where as I write this. (Rick Springfield?) It all works out fine, though. While the song felt familiar, it didn’t feel derivative or boring.
Interesting keyboard lines pop up here and there, particularly the string machine on “Hit For The Cycle,” which is probably the catchiest song here and also my favorite.
The lyrics to “Hit For The Cycle” don’t have much discernibly to do with baseball. Or double-entendre, or airports, or the rising price of imported mustard, or anything else. They seem to be pretty much free-associative: “Getting rid of everything but my invisible / Homemade clothes / Fortunately, gotta get a redundant team / Some experience canvassing.”
The whole album’s like that — somewhere between allusive and simply nonsensical. That doesn’t especially bother me; I’ve come to prefer the abstruse to the heavy-handed (not to mention the nakedly personal or the cliched.)
The singer’s delivery bothers me more than the lyrics do.
He’s often double-tracked, precise in his diction and sort of buttoned-down. He doesn’t sound particularly invested in the lyrics; he sounds more like he’s concerned that the studio headphones will ruffle his hair.
After a few listens I started to like him well enough. He’s in tune, and not actively offensive, and not given to histrionics. He fits in fine with the tone of the music. None of the other guys get their hair mussed either, really; it’s not that kind of band, at least not on record.
Sunday Guts might not capture you at first listen, but they’re worth a little effort. Leave It Go is a well-turned, catchy pop EP, and I hope to hear more from these guys.
Maybe they’ll even get some out-of-town gigs on the basis of this EP.
But unless they’re playing in Orlando, Clearwater, Chicago, Detroit or Atlanta, they’re gonna have to take the van.
Leave It Go is available for download on Bandcamp here. Or, you can order the pink-shell cassette with bonus items if you want. If it comes with one of those nifty guitar picks, it’s definitely worth it.