When the Sun Was Happy
I’ll come right out and say it: music scenes suck. In general they tend to breed homogeneity in sound, with rock shows existing as little more than thinly veiled social gatherings, opportunities to spot third degree Friendsters and hipster fashion shows. The mid-Michigan indie scene predominantly goes in two different directions: “dude, where’s my song?” spazz-core in the vein of Thunderbirds Are Now! and “Hey! Our fans are dicks!” Belle & Sebastian via Motown retreads like Saturday Looks Good to Me.
Enter East Lansing’s The Avenues. Swaggering in like the cusp of new wave in ’77, with their strong, intelligent pop sensibilities, more sweet than bitter sentiments and pitch perfect boy/girl harmonies — courtesy of keyboardist Danielle Sines and my joined-at-the-name twin Aaron Saul, the bass player — the band is completely aware of their geographic anachronisms and carry on unworried. The band doesn’t have a single misfire in its song canon, but tracks like the stomping, nervously pulsing “Position of the Heart,” guitarist Steven Rajewski’s slippery tundra “Walking Through,” the timeless summer melody “Driveways” and drummer Josh Foutch’s off-kilter and paranoid “Peppermint’s Song” are particularly enjoyable.
With When the Sun Was Happy, The Avenues should be able to start forming their own mid-Michigan niche, one where bands like The Cars and The Talking Heads get the accolades they deserve, but more important, one where the audience is actually impressed enough by the talent of the band to shut up and listen.