Before today I was an outsider, not in on the secret that is Sundowner. Before today, I had no clue that Chris McCaughan was pouring his heart out on vinyl; I had no clue that Chicago had such a gem hidden in their windy city. It’s not that I don’t try and seek out these hidden gems, it’s just hard not to get lost in the constant bombardment that is music now a days. Well, that being said I’m not the whisper kind of guy. I like to scream from rooftops and make sure everyone loves what I love. When I become a fan of a piece of art I seek out shirts, buttons, hats and bus side billboards to help with my announcement that “I LOVE THIS BAND!!”
It’s been awhile since I had such a instant fan-dom when it comes to music, but Sundowner’s straight-forward approach to song writing demands such enthusiasm. Chris’ new album We Chase The Waves had me asking the big question “have you heard this?” by the third track “Whales and Sharks.” This track was one of those songs that required the use of the repeat feature on my stereo and fast moving fingers straight to my Twitter wave. Don’t get me wrong, We Chase The Waves isn’t a one trick album, but a track to track acoustic masterpiece. You can tell that the songs are written with a deep passion just to write music, tracks like “All Prologue” just scream emotion and demand attention.
If you close your eyes, you can see yourself at the grimy bars that Chris played at while trekking through Europe with nothing but a guitar and the drive to have his music heard. This feeling flows through the record and brings to realization that each song has it’s own story and deep meaning. The only exception to this is the inclusion of “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” the thought to include a direct rendition of Franklin Pierce Adams’ poem just brings the album down. While the poem about the Chicago Cubs was just lost on me when compared to the darker fare of “In The Flicker.” Though the song is a blemish on the album, that is not to say it wasn’t exceptionally performed with the same passion that Chris brings to all the other tracks on the album.
One surprising element to the story that is We Chase The Waves is the fact that it was recorded in Chris’ and co-artist Neil Hennessy’s Logan Square apartments. The stamp of “This album is homemade” rings throughout the songs and gives it that “this would be great on vinyl” feeling. This is because scratchy notes and scraping needles would only add to the autobiographical feeling of the album. This is not to say that the album has the homemade feel, in fact it doesn’t and with out the homemade stamp of approval it would be a hard notice to find any out of studio flaws in any of the songs.
You can tell this piece of art was that of passion and meaning, for the 10 tracks of the album you get a look into the life of it’s creator. Though it’s not a perfect ride, that’s what makes it so enjoyable, it’s real and sometimes a dose of real in music rings louder than any catchy beat or quotable lyric. Music is always more enjoyable if it’s being performed by the band’s biggest fan, and with each chord strum and out of tune lyric you can tell that Chris loves to perform every song on this passionate album. You can pick up We Chase The Waves on August 10th.
I give We Chase The Waves 5 ” The McConaughey Salute!!” out of 5!
By Ryan Davis