(photo credit: Peter Kuehl and band members (L-R): Freda Love Smith, Dag Juhlin, Jacqueline Schimmel)

 

When I first heard the track ‘InfinityGirl’ I thought, R.E.M.? I had to check it out and I found out it was, in fact, a band called Sunshine Boys. They are a three-piece out of Chicago and are made up of Freda Love Smith (Blake Babies, Mysteries of Life), Dag Juhlin (Poi Dog Pondering, The Slugs), and Jacqueline Schimmel (Big Hello, Justin Roberts). Their sophomore album Work and Love is being released on May 1st via Room F/Pravda Records (digitally/CD) and Cheap Kiss Records (LP). It’s a great release made up of twelve melodic tracks.

We asked the band to pick three albums that have influenced them and their music. Each member of the band chose one album and shared their thoughts on each one below.

Jacqueline Schimmel (bass): The Kinks The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society

I became a big fan of the Kinks when I was 15, way back in 1979. At the time, they had a moderate hit with ‘(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman’, and I knew their early hits like ‘You Really Got Me’, but I hadn’t heard what they’d done in the intervening years. Discovering the treasure trove of their 1965-1970 output was life-changing. 1968’s The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society is so lyrically sophisticated and so quintessentially British, and the fact that it was released (on the same day as the BeatlesWhite Album!) when Ray Davies was only 24 remains astonishing to me. Each song is an immersive short story, and his wise-beyond-his-years empathy and lyrical economy make this record a must-hear. I remember reading a feature about the Kinks in Trouser Press in the early 1980s which mentioned that this album had sold only 38,000 copies in the US, 15 years after its release. I felt both sad and indignant that such a masterwork had been ignored for so long. If you haven’t yet discovered this beautiful album, there’s no time like the present.

Dag Juhlin (vocals, guitar): The Go-Betweens16 Lovers Lane

The first I heard of The Go-Betweens was ‘Streets of Your Town’, their sparkling single from 1988’s 16 Lovers Lane. Instantly carried off by its warm whoosh of hazy sunshine, I was struck dumb, hooked by the song, the band and the album. Of the GB’s two writers, I was drawn to Grant McLennan‘s melodically radiant songs (‘Streets’ was Grant’s; the closest they ever had to a hit), just slightly more than I was to the elegant Edward Gorey sketches of the band’s other principal, Robert Forster. But those are unfair boxes to put the writers in (One is Sunny! One is Dark!) and their songs work best side by side. Like much of Grant’s work, ‘Streets’ sends troubling dispatches (“..this town is full of battered wives”) from holiday postcards of sun-drenched melodies; Forster plunges his murky depths for lines like “I’m ten feet underwater, standing in a sunken canoe.” It’s an album about relationships in need of repair, of tension and tenderness. What 16 Lovers Lane continues to feed in me is the desire to make music that emanates from within, as I attempt to stand in the center of an un-self-conscious intersection of melodic release and lyrical intent.

Freda Love-Smith (drums): Zero BoysVicious Circle

Today I tested out this old friend: would it still provide the electrifying shot in the arm I remembered from 1982? Back then it was my before-school soundtrack. I pogoed around my bedroom to its tight, sneering 41-second title song and its magnificent anthem, ‘Living in the Eighties’, singing in full teen spirit: “I have no heroes/Just having a good time/Don’t remember the Beatles/Don’t like the Stones.”

The Zero Boys were a powerful hardcore punk quintet. They could play and they could write. But more importantly, they were from Indiana, just like me. They showed me that real culture wasn’t only happening in New York and LA, but right in my neighborhood. Their mark on me–on my decision to play drums, to spend most of my life as a Midwestern musician–is indelible.

And the record holds up, boy does it. If you could use a soundtrack for some angry and joyous pandemic pogoing-in-place, then here you go.

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