Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Suckers Are Anything But That

June 18, 2009

Have you heard of Suckers before? No? Well now that I’ve got you here, no more excuses. They’re a New York-based band with some serious talent and a sound that’s something like Polyphonic Spree mixed with Louis XIV and Franz Ferdinand. A lot of diverse instrumentation is one of their strengths; in fact, each one of them plays multiple instruments. Quinn Walker plays guitar, keyboard and floor tom; Austin Fisher plays guitar, sampler, and keyboard; Pan is on bass, trumpet, and sampler; Brian Aiken plays drums and keyboards; all four of them sing. Vocals are strong, as is the rich song composition throughout. Their self-titled Suckers EP was recently released on the IAMSOUND label, so no time to lose! Here’s what I thought of the EP:

The EP opens with “It Gets Your Body Movin’;” this is the one that immediately made me think of the Polyphonic Spree. The pace is laid-back, with main and backup vocals, a strong trumpet part, with background keyboard and drums rounding it out. In my notes, I described this song as, “happy music.” I know, I’ve got great insight. Now you know exactly what the song sounds like. The ending has strong character, with a sweet whistling bit that everything else is slowly layered on top of. First guitar, then shaker, then drums. The song builds continuously in instrumental until the vocals make a comeback. It’s very powerful stuff, borderline anthemic in its nature.

Next up in the playlist is “Beach Queen,” with a fun keyboard and percussive intro. Guitars, then vocals make an entrance, the whole time maintaining a fun, light tone. It’s got a catchy rhythm and vocals that at times made me think of Queen or Louis XIV. This song is great fun – the bass has a funk groove going on, keyboard is rhythmic and repeating the same, “do, do-do, do-do” phrase, and high-ranged vocal chorus gives it wonderful tone.

The last two songs are slower, perhaps less exciting than the opening pair, are musically more complex. “Afterthoughts & TV” seems almost wistful and nostalgic in its tone. It breaks into a higher tempo for the chorus, “We’ll find a simple way to talk / we’ll find a way to turn it off.” Throughout, you’re treated to gorgeous harmonizing on the vocals. Like on “It Gets Your Body Movin’,” the brass influence of the trumpet is an awesome addition (full disclosure: I used to play the trumpet. Never was any good at it, though). Rounding out the EP is “Easy Chairs.” The song has a flavor not unlike that of the Shins, but it’s definitely still suckers. This song makes me wish that everyone in every band could sing well – the depth and variety it adds to their music is staggering, especially given how talented these guys are. Here there’s some falsetto, on that part they’re doing a four-part choral bit. I can’t get enough of that stuff. On a side note, bass was much stronger and more exposed in this song than the others, and I loved it. They probably could have and should have had more moments like that.

I try to maintain at least a marginally-professional tone when writing, but I’ve got to say this now: I absolutely love these guys. Their style is a great mix of the easygoing and the energetic. I’m not completely sure how that’s possible, but it is. The vocal parts really set these guys apart, and extras like the addition of trumpet, tom, clapping, and whistling are nice touches. The Suckers EP is a rockin’ good time, no doubt. If you want to listen to a little of their stuff, I’ve got a handy-dandy link for the “Easy Chairs” music video. Also: for those of you in the south-central part of the United States, let it be known that Suckers will be at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I can’t wait to see these guys in concert. Oh yeah: buy their EP.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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