Tag: The Smithereens

Formed in Western Massachusetts back in 1982, The Sighs initially began with its founding members Robert LaRoche (lead vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals), two lifelong musicians, who had bonded over their mutual love of The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills and Nash and other acts that employed the use of multi-part harmonies — and the duo of LaRoche and Pluta quickly learned that they own voices blended together beautifully.  Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (lead vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete their lineup, and as a quartet the band quickly made a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explains in press notes “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As the story goes, the members of The Sighs crossed pants with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and producer, and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club, the band signed with Charisma/Virgin Records and released What Goes On to critical acclaim; in fact, the band built upon a growing profile with tours with Gin Blossoms, Dada and others.

The Sighs third full-length effort Wait On Another Day is the first release from the Western Massachusetts-based indie rock quartet in over 20 years, and the material on the album can trace its origins to a recently unearthed batch of demos recorded on analog tapes back in the 90s that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Once Cullen had shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola, the members of the band decided to reconvene at DeNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio and revise a handful of songs; however, as the band’s drummer Tom Borawaski explains “.  .  . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche says of the album, which occurred over a spontaneous five-day recording session. As Borawski adds, “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” And as a result, the material possesses an uncommon urgency and vitality — of the sort the most bands wish they could capture on wax; but interestingly enough, as Pluta notes, the material on the album focuses on many of the things they had written about in the past: girls, getting kickedd around, hopes and dreams and falling in love. And perhaps because of the band’s age and experience, the material possesses the wistful tone of one, who has accepted both the passing of time, and the strange sense that the more things change, the more they manage to remain completely the same. So what if you’ve traveled the world, read the great novels, seen and done all that’s needed to be seen? Heartache is heartache and everyone knows it at some point, and life is about knowing what to do once your heart is broken again and again and again and again . . .

The album’s latest single “It’s Real” is jangling guitar pop paired with gorgeous harmonies, impressive guitar work, and the sort of anthemic hooks reminiscent of The SmithereensStarfish, Gold Afternoon Fix and Forget Yourself-era The Church but with a swooning and urgent romanticism; after all, the song is about some of the classic rock ‘n’ roll tropes: wildly passionate love with that pretty young thing and the desperate excitement of it being real, for perhaps the first time and of finally achieving something that you’ve dreamt of for such a long time.







Comprised of Brisbane, Australia-born and Houston, TX-based Andrew Bower (vocals, guitar), Bower’s Brisbane, Australia-born and based brother Sean Bower (bass), along with Dan McNaulty (drums), The Valery Trails are a Trans-Pacific trio that over the past couple of years have received national attention for a sound that owes a major debt to early 90s/120 Minutes-era MTV rock, as previously released singles have managed to channel the likes of R.E.M., The Church, The Psychedelic Furs and others.

Now, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve actually written about them; however, the Trans-Pacific trio’s forthcoming album Chameleon Bones is slated for an August 5, 2016 release and the new album was recorded in a similar fashion to their two previous releases — with Andrew Bower recording demos in his home studio in Houston, then sending along his demos to bandmates Sean Bower and Dan McNaulty, who would then track bass and drums before returning the files to Andrew, who would then record guitars and vocals in a local commercial studio. As you can imagine, each song went back and forth to Brisbane for final overdubs, which created a variety of issues in the recording process. And as Andrew Bower explains in press notes, “The major obstacle, or more of a disadvantage, really, is that we don’t get the benefit of everyone being in the room together to agree on decisions that come up during recording.” Sean, Dan and the recording engineer had to commit to bass and drums sounds and arrangements without Andrew being able to weigh in — and without having a budget to re-record if he didn’t like it either. However, interestingly enough, this process also helps a band avoid the temptation of overanalyzing and obsessing to death over a minor issue at the expense of the overall freshness of the songs.


Chameleon Bones‘ first single “OK” is comprised of an anthemic hook paired with a jangling alt country/alt rock sound — in other words, slightly fuzzy guitars fed through subtle effects pedals, thunderous and propulsive drumming along with a throbbing bass line in a song that sounds as though it was channeling Big Star, The Smithereens, Murmur-era R.E.M., Dinosaur, Jr., The Church and others, complete with a radio-friendly, arena rock friendly air. But what distinguishes The Valery Trails from those familiar sources is that this particular single also manages to channel shoegazer rock and 90s Brit Pop in a way that puts a subtle new twist on a beloved sound.