Sunshine for the Blind – See the River Rise
2006 DNA Music Labs
It seems I’m doing a lot of rewriting this month. First I had to rewrite my Blueheels review because I didn’t quite nail what made it so special, and now Sunshine for the Blind is going to make me rewrite my “Best of 2006” list. Sneaking in during the waning days of the year, See the River Rise is the rare pure-rock record that I can get genuinely excited about. Powered by a killer rhythm section and super-catchy hooks, River was over two years in the making. In fact, vocalist/guitarist Brian Daly scheduled the CD-release show (January 19th at the King Club) before the disc was even finished to give himself a deadline. While my review copy is labeled “rough,” that is obviously the producer in him talking (he’s co-owner of DNA Studios), because this record certainly sounds finished to me. Consisting of thirteen songs, most hovering right around the three-minute mark, this is the way rock should be.
The titular lead-off track takes the heavyweight crown with its thick guitar riffs and pounding percussion, and though the rest of the album dials it back a little, it never loses the intensity or drive initiated with that song. Following my first exposure to the band, I claimed their songs had roots in the psychedelic rock of the Beatles’ Revolver, and that sound surfaces most noticeably in “Another Sun” and “Drop the Weight.” The shimmery, hypnotic guitar of the former recalls “She Said She Said,” while the more forceful latter track is buoyed by the brilliant, Beatle-worthy, and vaguely heart-breaking, line “I’ve got tears that will never dry,” as well as by backing vocals from drummer Daphna Ron. In truth, any song that Ron sings on is better for it, and her drumming is a revelation throughout. She gives the disc’s standout track, “Can’t Be Real,” a Pixies-esque feel, its tempo-changing propulsion lends heft to unsettling lines like “I’ll be everyone you knew / I’ll share your favorite point of view,” before admitting, “This can’t be real.” Awesome.
While not as obvious as Ron, bassist Ken Stevenson, who also contributes backing vocals, is just as crucial to their sound. If they hadn’t found him after going through several other bass players, the band, and most certainly this CD, might not exist. When I mention Sunshine for the Blind, people invariably exclaim, “What a great name!” and it is, because that’s what music is, really. With the release of See the River Rise, the first on new label DNA Music Labs, now they’ll say “What a great band!”