Sonny & The Sunsets

Sonny & the Sunsets’ busted beach-pop songs spark recollections of doo wop’s otherworldly despair, the kitchen sink savoir faire of The Raincoats, a dose of goofball humor from the Michael Hurley school, and positive possibilities exuded by Jonathan Richman, with and without The Modern Lovers. Helmed by the acclaimed singer / songwriter, playwright, author & onetime troubadour pianoman Sonny Smith, The Sunsets have featured a revolving door lineup that became permanent with Kelley Stoltz, Tahlia Harbour and Ryan Browne. Still more friends and neighbors including John Dwyer, Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin cosmically appeared to contribute to the debut LP, Tomorrow is Alright. The LP is limited to 500 copies. Tomorrow is Alright hits on all the right zones, from sly VU-like observations to the true bedlam explored by Holy Modal Rounders. All the while, Sonny’s pen is soaked with an EC comics sense of storytelling, touching equally on the macabre, the absurd, the humorous, and above all, the entertaining.

It’s no wonder why The Zombies asked Mystic Braves to open their L.A. show last year. While the hometown favorites were barely even a blip on their respective parents’ radars when Odessey and Oracle was released, the psych-steeped five-piece sounds like they stepped straight out of the ’60s. And not in an obvious, someone’s-been-studying-their Nuggets-comps-until-the-grooves-give-out sort of way, either. We’re talking a richer, fuller plot of references (garage-borne greats like The Electric Prunes, The Chocolate Watchband and The Music Machine) that filter the band’s hook-centric purple haze through robust organ rolls, runaway guitar riffs, heat-stroked horns and a rhythm section that can only be described as “restless”.


Especially on Desert Island, a scrappy extension of the self-titled debut Mystic Braves dropped in 2013. From the ravenous opening remarks of “Bright Blue Day Haze”—the first song frontman Julian Ducatenzeiler wrote for the outfit, making it their mission statement in more ways than one—right on through the wild-eyed melodies of “Earthshake,” the filler-free effort is more aggressive than their last album yet about as immediately accessible as vapor-trailed rock music gets these days. It’s sunshine in a bottle, really, which can only be expected from a group with such deep California roots.


“The west coast has it all really—beaches, mountains, deserts, cities, suburbs,” explains Ducatenzeiler, who’s rounded out by drummer Cameron Gartung, guitarist Shane Stotsenberg, bassist Tony Malacara and organist/tambourinist Ignacio Gonzalez. “Our sound is merely a byproduct of the environments we grew up in and the experiences we had. We’re not trying to deliberately channel ’60s music, either; we simply write sensible pop songs from the heart with psychedelic textures and tones. It just comes natural to us.”


– Filter Magazine

The Blank Tapes (Acoustic set)

Matt Adams, a soft-spoken kid from a Southern California suburb who learned to play practically every instrument a good garage band needs, and then started making beautifully idiosyncratic records on his trusty home eight-track because … well, why wait? When he first heard the Beatles and the Kinks, he knew he needed to make his own songs, too, and so in 2003 he did, with the kind of inspiration and confidence and personality you’d think have faded out in 1967. By the time he left his home in Orange County for San Francisco in 2005, he’d put dozens if not a hundred of his own songs on tape, all lovingly and painstakingly and perfectly recorded in a series of ever more modest bedrooms and sheds. The local press loved him and when he landed in the Bay Area, the press there loved him just as much, too. (“Somebody sign him, quick!” said Rolling Stone.)


$10.00 - $12.00

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Sonny & The Sunsets with Mystic Braves, The Blank Tapes (Acoustic set)

Monday, August 26 · 8:30 PM at The Echo