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WPGM Recommends: Sun Club – The Dongo Durango (Album Review)

sun club the dongo durango
There’s beauty within the madness. In fact, I would say even the madness is beautiful. From the musically inspiring and diverse city of Baltimore, this childhood friendship group have put their heads and hearts together to create one fantastically unique and wonderfully whimsical record. Sun Club took to the indie airwaves with the release of their previous EP Dad Claps At The Mom Prom over a year ago, they have been traversing the US from underground venues to bars and supporting the likes of Alvvays, Fidlar and Fat White Family.

Following in the footsteps of their fellow musical towns-people, Future Islands, Beach House and Animal Collective, their creative sound is based around their raw talent and the sheer amount of energy they give off. This debut album, The Dongo Durango, was all recorded live in an old warehouse make-shift studio. This does not surprise me as Sun Club come across as the type of band who value the essence of the unrefined natural sound over the digital tinkerings of the classic studio recording process. After a few listens, it is obvious that Sun Club made the right choice as their boisterous sound has been captured perfectly and is presented in its best fashion.

Their ferocious warped vocals are hard not to bellow along to as the rhythmically structured choruses are extremely catchy, not to mention the beaming hooks which light up your soul. Additionally, there is certainly a sense of light-hearted humour which takes a key role at the substance of many of the tracks. With track titles like “Puppy Gumgum”, the youthful passion and liveliness will turn any frown upside down. Their melodies with captivate you from start to finish if you are willing to jump into their euphoric tornado of sound. Believe me, it’s worth it!

As I mentioned before, the beauty within madness is ever present and comes to life with the first track “Glob”. Reflecting the album cover of creepy faces on a merry-go-round, the entering of manic laughter takes you off guard, but it is the welcomed carnival organ sound which seeps through the creepiness to calm the listener, offering a promise of something quite different. The music finds its shape as it offers an introduction to the next track “Summer Feet”. A variety of genres are on offer in this track as the cheery nature of indie-pop finds fun within the punk/grunge sound. The wild, yet structured guitar riffs dictated by the ferocious beat of the drummer harmoniously work alongside the bright and breezy vocals of singer Ruben Thurnim.

Stand out song of the album goes to track number three, “Worm City”. I applaud the bravery of screaming for what you believe in, despite the risk of scaring off the listener. Instead of being overwhelmed by the intensity of volume, the hollering could not be any more warranted by your ears. Thurnim’s reverberating voice combined with the stomping beats and twangy guitar hooks will not tingle, but shake your spine. That’s one step further, I’ll have you know. This is fantastically presented by their trippy and psychedelic green screen music video. The ridiculous happenings of what’s taking place perfectly reinforces the manic nature within the sound Sun Club produces and performs. And why not? Sometimes a little bit of silliness is needed to balance this serious music industry being too often violated by overly pretentious themes.

Drummer Devin McCord states: “We wanted to just make a crazy overstimulating green screen video and Robby (Baltimore director) who we asked to film the video has done a bunch of awesome and ridiculous stuff for Adult Swim. He used to film old funny Wham City videos and we’ve seen his standup too – so when our real good bud Max said he was his cousin we reached out and asked him to film Worm City in Shane’s old living space. We just spent one day getting real weird in front of the green screen in this warehouse place and this is the product”.

Smack bang in the middle, “Beauty Meat” acts as the album’s anthem which is damn near impossible to not murmur to. The power of the rhythm is too much to bear as you will be drawn in to its beautiful core. It’s tracks like “Beauty Meat” and its successor “Language Juice” which will leave you longing for that hazy and awe inspiring summer festival. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a sweaty collection of music lovers dancing your socks off, its pure blissful perfection isn’t it? I can’t help but think this album was released too late. Then again maybe Sun Club can bring the sun to winter to warm us up?

The last track of the album entitled “Tropicoller Lease” graces us with the same thumping obscurity in sound as the rest of the album, but with a slightly compacting lower-fi spirit. Taking the foot off the gas slightly, you are offered a chance to finish the album with a controlled send-off feeling more than content. This is certainly a happy ending to an adventure of epic proportions. Next time they embark on a musical journey resembling this one, make sure you are on board from the beginning, Sun Club are not a band to miss out on.

To conclude, I will leave you with a few words from the band about how they came up with the name Dongo Durango, which perfectly sums up their playful and brilliant character. “The phrase ‘The Dongo Durango’ does not mean one thing but embodies many metaphoric and symbolic meanings. It’s sort of like the good old F word: you can just place it anywhere you’d like in a sentence (verb, noun, advective). “Oh how have you been this week, William?” “You know, just been doing the old dongo durango, just hanging out”. Sun Club’s The Dongo Durango is out now via ATO Records, purchase it on iTunes here.

Words by Finn Brownbill

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