Punknews.org
Sundowner - We Chase the Waves (Cover Artwork)

Sundowner

Sundowner: We Chase the WavesWe Chase the Waves (2010)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The Lawrence Arms' last release, Buttsweat and Tears, was a tease. Yeah, it was good, but it was just a seven-inch. Now the group's members are again pursuing separate interests. Brendan Kelly dropped an acoustic split with Smoke or Fire's Joe McMahon, and is now preparing a solo album. Until that T.
iTunes StoreAmazon


The Lawrence Arms' last release, Buttsweat and Tears, was a tease. Yeah, it was good, but it was just a seven-inch. Now the group's members are again pursuing separate interests. Brendan Kelly dropped an acoustic split with Smoke or Fire's Joe McMahon, and is now preparing a solo album. Until that TLA live DVD drops, the only way to get one's fix is through We Chase the Waves, the sophomore effort from Chris McCaughan's side project, Sundowner.

While cellist Jenny Choi does not return this time around, We Chase the Waves is otherwise pretty similar to Sundowner's debut, Four One Five Two. McCaughan still offers light acoustic jams that are just a shade too mellow to work as TLA tunes (with the fiery "Jewel of the Midwest" being the exception here). Larry Arms drummer Neil "Tennessee" Hennessy returns on bass, although to be honest his presence is barely felt on these recordings. McCaughan's approach is awfully spare, though he does occasionally throw in an extra guitar part or backing vox. Otherwise, this is a one-man show that would sound the same live.

This puts We Chase the Waves in an awkward place. The songs are generally good, and their aquatic themes couple with the easygoing pace to make for a pretty chill summer record. But that also means that Waves can get a little repetitive and clunky in spots. "Whales and Sharks" is pretty awesome for its stripped-down sound and story about being married to the sea. But you're still listening to a song about how algae are totally awesome. "As the Crow Flies" is pretty catchy, but its vague story about writing music leaves it seeming a little shallow.

McCaughan's lyrics occasionally falter, and there are several times I suspect he was just trying to fill syllables. But the record is so damn relaxed and charming. "In the Flicker" is such a great, ominous opening track, complete with real, totally unplanned thunder. "Baseball's Sad Lexicon" is the best ode to the Chicago Cubs since the Mountain Goats' "Cubs in Five." "Jewel in the Midwest" rocks.

The album isn't perfect--a few of the songs meander--but it's still a modest success all the same. Until the Larry Arms ride again, Sundowner is a fine alternative.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldSundowner - Four One Five TwoJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyDillinger Four - C I V I L W A RThe Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat and Tears [7 inch]Alkaline Trio - GoddamnitRVIVR - LP [12-inch]Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
BarleyPat (April 8, 2014)

No mention of how Jewel of the Midwest is basically "The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar..." with different lyrics? Either way, still a great song.

whatchokesbegin (September 2, 2010)

I know I'm in the minority here, but McCaughan's voice really starts grating after a few songs. He sounds way better with the Larry Arms, when he's hiding behind good music (The Greatest Story Ever Told) and Brendan Kelly (Oh! Calcutta!). It's sort of how I love BTMI! even though Jeff Rosenstock can't sing, but I would never buy an acoustic album if he made one. Four One Five Two was pretty decent, but I can't listen to this for very long. It gives me a headache.

Luke12 (August 24, 2010)

I absolutely love this. McCaughan can do know wrong.

withoutbellson (August 19, 2010)

chris is m'boy. good tunes fo sho.

xjeffersonx (August 19, 2010)

Definately a grower, at first i was like this is good. now i can't stop listening to it. Incredible record. Araby, in the flicker, as the crow flies, the whales and the sharks are all amazing songs as are the others but i can't be arsed to name them all.

xcarlupanddiex (August 19, 2010)

his 1st album was better

TLA are better

Blackjaw_ (August 19, 2010)

I like this better than anything else Lawrence Arms-related, except The Greatest Story Ever Told. Yeah, I know, I suck.

thepopeofchili-town (August 18, 2010)

"The lyrics on this record are amazing. Chris also expanded his acoustic talent from just two different strum patterns to a whole variety. He made a full album of songs using totally different approaches to each song."

Yeah, but that came out four years ago. We're talking about "We Chase The Waves" here,

kickaha (August 18, 2010)

This seems to be a "grower" for a lot of people, but I really liked it right off the bat. I love 4152, but I like the "warmer" feel to the rocording here. I'd like to here Jewel of the Midwest as a full band Lawrence Arms song.

betteroffskankin (August 18, 2010)

The lyrics on this record are amazing. Chris also expanded his acoustic talent from just two different strum patterns to a whole variety. He made a full album of songs using totally different approaches to each song.

levi-dolphin (August 18, 2010)

this is my favorite acoustic record of the year. *thank you Sundowner*

Jelone (August 18, 2010)

For the record, Asian Man sent me this album like a month ago, so while I agree that it's a grower, I don't see it growing much more, for me anyway.

slymer (August 18, 2010)

One of the best albums of the year. "In the Flicker" and "As the Crow Flies" are amazing songs.

tris (August 18, 2010)

yep, I think this review hit the nail on the head. it's not necessarily *bad*, it's just not the level of greatness I've come to expect from my favourite songwriter. I'd still be all over a sundowner uk tour, though.

pledge2world (August 18, 2010)

not trying to sound like a broken record, but you deff. have to listen to it (while possibly reading the lyrics) for it to grow on you. It took me like a good 10 listens and now I think it's even better then four one five two

damo (August 18, 2010)

i loved 4152 but nowt stands out for me on this. shame

AllAgesPete (August 18, 2010)

I think this is a great record. At first, it was alright, but as I listened to it again and again, it grew on me like crazy. I play it every day now.

MN_DrNick (August 18, 2010)

Pretty good, but not as great as Four One Five Two. Didn't really bring anything new to the table, but still I liked it.

And it's not disappointment of the year like tthepopeofchili-town claims. That honor goes to White Crosses. Since he's an Against Me! fanboy he doesn't realize it. Also, This Addiction was disappointing as well.

Anyways.... this album is good.

StraightToHell82 (August 18, 2010)

Really not into this at all. His first one was a little better.
Gimme more Lawrence Arms!

damnitsderek (August 18, 2010)

I like it, but I'm completely agree when you say his lyrics falter at some points. Some parts just feel awkward and forced, which is disappointing because McCaughan is such a good fucking writer.

Definitely a good record though, it's continually growing on me. Definitely a candidate for my best of 2010 list.

timorous_me (August 17, 2010)

I like it a lot. It's grown on me a ton since I first heard it.

inourbrokenteeth (August 17, 2010)

I was disappointed at first, because four one five two is so great, but honestly, i kept listening to it and now i can't stop. some songs seem a bit silly, but i've grown to love it.

xherojuanax (August 17, 2010)

All of these songs sound as though they were meant to be electric. We Chase The Waves would've worked well as a debut, but compared to the varied dynamics of Four One Five Two, it's like a backwards progression.

blanktapesemptybottles (August 17, 2010)

you gotta take into consideration the way it was written and recorded, it puts a lot of stress on you only working on things time to time and also Neil's bass parts are pretty awesome, that one song where he plays in a different timing is awesome

OneMoreBlatz (August 17, 2010)

I would say this review is spot on with the way I originally listened to this recording; pieced together from the videos posted on youtube. After receiving the proper release and giving it 10 or so spins on the table, I have to admit, I'm falling for this record. It completely lends itself to a 12 pack in an old rocking chair on a wooden porch. I love the nuances that are audible in the recording over a pair of good headphones. This is going to be sitting right next to my copy of The Greatest show for emergency porch beers. It just feels Midwest.

Problematiclogic (August 17, 2010)

This just feels confusingly minimal and stripped-down after Four One Five Two. I mean it is good but...it feels like some unfinished demos.

wearestillalive (August 17, 2010)

Oh, lame. I was really excited about this. Maybe I'll still like it.

jaydischord (August 17, 2010)

I like it a lot but its not as good as four one five two....HOWEVER, it seems to be growing on me with every listen.Maybe i had such ridiculously high expectations that were not met on my first listen.Im extremely pissed off that im going to be in San Francisco THREE days after he plays in a few weeks.

thepopeofchili-town (August 17, 2010)

Disappointment of the year for me. It saddens me how much I don't like this record. He can do so much better.

Cuddly_Cameron (August 17, 2010)

Good interview. I think this album is as equally good as Four One Five Two, but it has a different feel. Like more light and upbeat which i like. It's definitely worth getting on vinyl though.

Bryne (August 17, 2010)

I was a little disappointed by this. Like Brian said, a little variety would've gone a long way. This tends to run together for me.

inagreendase (August 17, 2010)

Yeah, it's decent. Needs more variety and better songs, though. Maybe I'm just holding him too close to the bar that Four One Five Two (and if you want to go further, "The Raw and Searing Flesh," "The Revisionist," "Brickwall Views") set.

Exclusive Streams

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go