Sunwatchers – Oh Yeah?

4 out of 5

Label: Trouble in Mind

Produced by: Alex Berthelot

An intense, miasmic swirl of the Sunwatchers’ guitar / bass / drums / horns freakouts, the group’s 4th-ish album in 4 years seems to be, as per its title, like a bet: don’t think they can keep the intensity and quality a’going? And here’s the answer…

Oh Yeah?’s six tracks burn bright and hard, hovering just at the edge of improv and jam to craft often mind-blowing collisions of jazz and rock, letting every aspect of their dynamic room to shine. Opener Sunwatchers vs. Tooth Decay stumbles in to guitar wizardry as its lead; followup Love Paste cedes to a klezmer intro and lets horns take the lead. Brown Ice is an amped up take on loose, fluttery jazz, grounded by its mesmerizing horn lines and jaw-dropping guitar and bass interplay, drums punk-rocking along. Thee Worm Store grinds it out with, like, a de-tuned riff that gives way to Sunwatchers’ take on stoner rock, nonetheless played at a speed that would blow stoners’ minds. The Conch is the only track that doesn’t add much – sort of a celebratory lap that revisits some rock riffage we’ve heard along the way – but it’s perhaps purposefully short (less than 3 minutes) and familiar to make way for the slowburn, 20 minute close of The Earthsized Thumb. The track takes its time putting its pieces together, maybe indulgently so, but christ, once it puts them together is it ever worth it, maintaining a burning frenzy of all its various themes for its earth-shattering concluding third or so.