This is the Sonics
By the late ’60s rock and roll was growing up. Lyrics were discarding frivolous teenage concerns and vying to be taken seriously as poetry or social critique. The instrumentation was changing as well, with more groups using the studio to create lush, epic soundscapes, often adding strings or other instruments to make more grown-up music, while still using the rock and roll template.
Luckily, The Sonics never got that memo. 1965’s Here Are the Sonics was a loud, simple declaration dealing with love troubles (“Psycho”), cars (“Boss Hoss”), and the joys of drinking poison (“Strychnine”). Keeping the songs simple and propulsive, with the only extras being a saxophone and keyboards, The Sonics also had in Gary Rosile a vocalist who could summon probably the most unhinged screaming vocals ever. While Here Are the Sonics wasn’t a household name, it was heard in the righthouses, and served as a major blueprint for the ’80s garage/punk genre.
40 years later, with rock music in an even more dire state (I mean, honestly, ukuleles?), The Sonics release This is the Sonics a reminder of just how life-affirming loud, fast, simple music can be. Rosile’s voice sounds a bit more lived in, sometimes recalling Steve Marriott of the Small Faces, and if he doesn’t employ his ghastly scream as much as he did in the ’60s, the songs are the sort of raging garage rock that the world desperately needs now.
Only the rhythm section has changed, original guitarist Larry Parypa and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Rob Lind play like they’ve been waiting to show off their chops for 40 years, especially with the dirty guitar tone on “The Hard Way” or the primitive guitar/saxophone stomp of “Be a Woman.” This is the Sonics is that rarest of reunion albums, one that reminds the listener of what made the group so vital originally, and still sounds fresh and full of life. The Sonics are embarking on a small, ten date national tour this year, I would imagine this stuff sounds great live.