Friday, January 15, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 169: The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

By: March

Album - Reading Writing and Arithmetic
Artist - The Sundays
Key Players - Harriet Wheeler - Vocals, David Gavurin - Guitar, Paul Brindley - Bass, Patrick Hannan - Drums
Produced By - The Sundays and Ray Shulman

Release Date - January 15, 1990 (for the first time ever I've got a cd reviewed on the day it came out??!)

What caused me to blow off the dust? - It is a new year, and it has been ages since I've listened to this disc. I've been on the fence about going back to it because this record I recalled really liking, but their other efforts I didn't seem to be blown away with.

Overview - This was the first record from the London based band "The Sundays". The band were an instant hit with the press and the fans quickly followed. The band would enjoy chart success as well as sales success on the record (going Gold in the US). The band would keep fans ravenous for new material (only three records would be released) and the band would tour sporadically, creating even more of a frenzy.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with "Skin & Bones" and sets an immediate tone. Gavurin has a subdued, but jangle to his guitar. Wheelers voice punches off the speakers and Brindley and Hannan offer a strong rhythm section for the lush layers of the vocals. The song doesn't have a strong hook but Wheeler sets the tone for what is to come. One of the big early singles from the band is "Here's Where the Story Ends", the song that got me to buy the record. The lush vocals over the top of acoustic guitars still sound as "hip" today as they did 20 years ago. Hannan picks the right time(s) to hit that splash cymbal and the electric guitar over dub on the chorus is perfectly placed. The band comes together as a great unit on the final verse/chorus with Wheeler pushing herself more and it all ending on a strong note. The chime of that electric guitar returns on "Can't Be Sure". It is mostly Wheeler and Gavurin at the outset with some tambourine hits sprinkled in for good measure. Wheeler and the guitar slowly build to a crescendo before the bass and drums come in. It never gets over the top rocking, but Wheeler seems to really be pushing herself on the track vocally. The acoustic is back front and center once more on "I Won", and once again gets some electric guitar over dubs deeper in to the track. Hannan keeps the drums at a marching band tempo but Brindley's bass seems to be lost of the track until he runs a bass fill with Gavurin after the second verse. The band gets to show off a little during an instrumental break down. Its the first time there are really any "solos" and the band seems to embrace it and lock into the zone. Brindley runs his bass fill once more and Wheeler comes back in to sing the final verse. Using a very "mathy" feel is "Hideous Towns". On this track Hannan and Brindley get to really show off their timing with the guitar and Wheeler keeping a more straight line approach. This was always one of my favorite tracks on the record from a musical standpoint. Its almost impossible to tap your feet to the beat of the song during the verses, which, is sorta neat. The track gets that urgent push later, making it a real stand out track, its so good, they do it twice. We mellow out again (a trend it seems) on "You're Not the Only One I Know". Acoustic guitars, with the finger slides amplified abound at the outset. The song is sort of "run of the mill" with not a lot of new ground being broken. "A Certain Someone" opens with a quick drum riff before the trademark chime of the guitar comes in. The bass and drums feed off each other while Wheeler coons over the top in a whispered tone. Gavurin gets a little more flashy as the song grows deeper, but barring that it seems to maintain the course. The shortest track on the record is "I Kicked a Boy" at 2:16. The band keeps it, as indicated, short and to the point. The vocals once more are hushed and the guitar and band are very "full" at this time. Its a pretty song, a song that almost needed to be longer. Goal archived I guess, leave us wanting more. Another college radio track was "My Finest Hour". Gavurin really knows how to set the mood with his guitar and his work always compliments Wheeler vocally. Hannan and Brindley once again keep it pretty straight forward with the rhythm section allowing to Wheeler to spread her wings vocally at the chorus. The album closes with "Joy" a track that lets Hannan and Brindley to take the lead. The bass and drums slowly build up before the guitar joins and then Wheeler on vocals. The bass has a nice full chorus sound to it, and it plays well with the guitar line, filling in at the right time. This song slowly builds to about as "quick a pace" as the band will lay down for the whole record. It all ends on a pretty strong upswing, leaving you wishing for more than just 10 tracks.

Where are they now? Gavurin and Wheeler married and have children, and by all reports, that is their focus. Brindley and Hannan are still active in the music business (see the links below).

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band perform live.

FDF Overall Take - I find this record to be a "mood" record. A late evening record for sure. Not something you'd put on to get a party started, but played at the right time could really make the night all the more perfect. It had been a very long time since this got the old "front to back" but I hope it won't be as long before the next time. This band is what the Cranberries wished to be..there I said it.

There is not really a band web page, but they are on Facebook and there is a fan page. Paul is on mypsace as is Patrick

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been removed...
Here's Where the Story Ends
Hideous Towns
My Finest Hour

Tracks taken from "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Craig said...

I really liked this band for a few years in the early 90s. I much preferred the second album 'Blind" which had the big single (in Australia, anyway), "Goodbye". Unfortunately, the 3rd album (Static and Silence) was much of the same as the first 2.Although I did like the single from it, "Summertime". I think you nailed it with the mood music call. This album is not a party starter by a longshot, but at the right time, the music is pretty relaxing.


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