The Gold Sounds, Seismic Love

The Gold Sounds, Seismic Love

Deer Park boys The Gold Sounds know how to start off an album, that’s for damn sure. Opener “She Got Me Singin So Low” comes crashing in, so rambunctious and wild you can practically hear singer/bassist Sean Donnelly’s knowing smirk right through the speakers, and the track steadily gets more and more chaotic ’til drummer Dee Donnelly is doing a full-on Keith Moon drum blowout at the end and brother Sean and guitarist Chris Fuentes is creating a spiraling squall of guitar sound that all but collapses in on itself. Best. Opening. Track. Ever. (Okay, maybe not Ever, but hey, it’s close.)

Admittedly, I’m a bit biased — after all, Seismic Love is the full-length I’ve been eagerly awaiting since late in 2007, when I first heard this Deer Park trio’s brand of dark, rough-edged, garage-y rock and had to pick my face up off the floor. Since that time, the band’s been hard to pin down, only releasing a couple of EP/demos with a shifting set of early-cut songs on ’em; Seismic Love is far, far, far overdue, in my book, and I’m happy as hell to have it here in my hands.

There’s a risk, of course, with that kind of anticipation, but The Gold Sounds have delivered, well and truly. They shrewdly kick in the door with the barnburning rockers first, following up “She Got Me Singin So Low” with the slinky snarl of “Champagne,” which showcases Sean Donnelly’s thick, fuzzed-out, meaty-sounding bass quite nicely and sounds like a song Jack White dearly wishes he’d written, and then with the seriously murky, sinister-sounding “Keep It Rolling,” which switches between Ziggy Stardust-ish vocals for the verses and a low-down, almost unbelievably bassy growl for the chorus. Again, Donnelly’s bass crunches and rumbles perfectly, sounding like classic Mudhoney but slightly cleaner and more tightly-wound.

The Sounds wisely wait ’til a little ways in to throw the first curve, with the seemingly gentle, sweetly yearning “College Radio”; the song starts of drifting and pretty, but it’s all a bait-and-switch for the snapping, propulsive mid-’90s indie-rock that comes in after a minute-and-a-half or so. When it comes to this song, I’ve found that I honestly don’t care how many times I’ve heard it before. It’s just such a smart, wonderfully catchy, well-put-together track that it works every single damn time I put it on. By the time the band gets to the frantic desperation in the line, “My heart starts shaking / and the world starts shaking / and it’s all gone,” I’m beaming and foot-drumming away like a fool. It’s like Superchunk covering the Ramones, in the best fucking possible way.

I should note, by the way, that several of the songs on here — “Champagne,” “College Radio,” and “Parfum,” for three, at least on the version of the EP I’ve got — have popped up on the demo-ish EPs I mentioned earlier, but don’t take that to mean any of this is throwaway. Everything but “Parfum” was re-recorded in 2009 for the full-length, and to my ears the previously-released songs sound tighter, more confident, and flat-out better than they did the last time out. (And hey, at this point the odds of digging up one of the early EPs are pretty slim.)

The newer stuff’s great, too, mind you. “Too Old To Be Young” may be a bit premature in its self-assessment, if you ask me, but the track’s nicely melodic while still having a great, ragged crunch to it that I just can’t help but love; both “College Radio” and “Too Old To Be Young” remind me heavily at points of a less-backwoodsy, more Stones-y Kings of Leon, and I don’t think that’s any kind of bad thing. Then there’s “Two Ways,” which is remarkably heartfelt and sweet, the tough guys showing their collective heart on their collective sleeve over a rootsy “walking” rhythm and almost Springsteenian melody.

“Rain Machine” brings the dark edge back to the proceedings, placing that awesomely rumbling, fuzzed-yet-tight bass sound right up front and coupling it with Fuentes’ twisty, dizziness-inducing riffs to come up with a song that bumps along but sounds genuinely threatening, like a Tarantino-ized take on West Side Story or something. “Parfum” is probably my least-favorite track on here, honestly, with its slow-moving country/blues feel dragging things down a bit, but even that seems to fit better now than it did on the EP.

Plus, it’s redeemed by the great, resigned melancholy of “All Love Songs Get Old” and the swaggering stomp of the title track (which makes me think of the Queens of the Stone Age, for some reason). Closer “I See the World Fall” strikes a more poignant note, swooping and meandering along beneath sky-high guitars, and it makes me think (favorably) of Benjamin Wesley more than anything else, both in terms of the melody and vocals.

It’s funny, but for a musical genre that holds nonconformity and breaking rules dear, rock & roll as a whole sure seems to have a ton of rules rock bands “have” to follow for things to click. You’ve got to mean what you’re doing — but not too much; you’ve got to take risks, to blaze your own trail — as long as you don’t stray too far off the beaten path; you’ve got have attitude (seriously, how else could you sing about “Seismic Love” and mean it?) — but not too much. There’s a tight, tight target bands like this have to aim for, and you can tell almost immediately when somebody makes a misstep. The Gold Sounds don’t just hit the mark, though; they fucking nail it.

[The Gold Sounds are playing their CD release party 2/12/10 at Walter's, along with Paris Falls, T.V. Torso, & The Small Sounds.]
(self-released; The Gold Sounds --

Review by . Review posted Friday, February 12th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “The Gold Sounds, Seismic Love

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Help Fight Cancer, This Evening in Pearland with The Gold Sounds on May 2nd, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    […] Gold Sounds will be playing — and if you didn’t get a chance to hear last year’s Seismic Love, really need to — along with the Ben Donnelly Band (the namesake of which I’m guessing […]

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