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Album Review: Super American ‘Tequila Sunrise’

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The popular Los Angeles rock band the Eagles sang about a “Tequila Sunrise” on their Desperado album back in 1973.  This Friday, Sept. 14, Buffalo NY Indie rock duo Super American are releasing their debut album of the same name —Tequila Sunrise, via Take This To Heart Records. This time around, the record delivers a 13-track set of catchy songs and memorable lyrics perfectly matched to any non-committal, slacker, equipped with an ironically soft spot for falling in love. The record manages to remain upbeat, in what otherwise could be a pretty doom and gloom situation, or worse yet — 100% whiney.

The duo reminds me along the same veins of Cartel, Cute is What We Aim For, Boys Like Girls, and even a little bit Hellogoodbye … you know — every GREAT band from the mid-2000’s that completely dropped off your radar. How dare you!

Super American (Pat Freely & Matt Cox) have self-described the duo as the soundtrack from a late 90s/early 2000s rom-com. I bet if you asked Freddie Prinze Jr., he’d nod. And if you asked Jason Biggs, he’d agree wholeheartedly.

The first track on Tequila Sunrise is “Coconut Shrimp,” a quirky take on similar storytelling songs like those from Modern Baseball. This one is much more lighthearted, examining questions like learning better loving, and getting better at saving money. It’s an easygoing bouncy beat that you was made for a teenager coming-of-age movie trailer. The end has some distorted audio, something along the lines of backwards tarantulas and lawnmowers? Intrigued? Me too.

“Commitment Issues” continues, with what sounds like a different vocalist than the first track — and a separate storyline.

I’ve got two girls wearing one of my sweatshirts … Guess I could choose one / I don’t want to have to.

You’ve been there for me even when you didn’t have to / I’ve been bad to you – lord knows I didn’t want to/ I wish everything wasn’t so complicated / and I wasn’t scared to death of making commitment.

Even if the song reminds you of a former fling, or an almost-ex who had some pretty lukewarm feelings for you (that might bring up some bad memories); you’ve got to give credit where due. Not only realizing commitment issues, but also crafting an all-too-relatable song about said flaw — are both impressive to say the least. And vulnerable. But that’s how people relate to music — the highs and the lows.

On “Hands Down Olivia,” the first three seconds instantly take me back to the 1998 hit “Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins. You remember it, I know you do. Everything’s gonna be all right, rockabye, rockabye. After those first few seconds, Super American’s song, however, takes a silly spin with humorous lyrics — I’d like to think there’s rhythm in my size 29 pants. It takes a cutesy turn on the chorus: If you ask right now who my favorite girl i /  It’d be hands down Olivia.

Think of this song as an alternate, earlier version of Hellogoodbye’s “Bonnie Taylor Shakedown” before all the synths and distortions.

Another memorable track from the debut record is “Sleeping in Jeans.” We’ve all been there — as uncomfortable, yet routine as that may be. Denim is never as comfortable as pajamas. Everyone knows it, yet how many of us have spent an inordinate amount of time, passed out on a sofa, fully clothed? Too many, that’s how many. This tune is a tale of a broken heart.

Sittin’ at the bar, with tears welling up in my eyes / trying to explain what I’m feelin’ inside / I’m living hell and that means I’ll be sleeping in my jeans.

Then comes the inevitable sadness turns to frustration and personal jabs.

I bet you still use my phrases / Why can’t you just ever be yourself? / Well it’s easier to hate somebody than to miss them / So thank you for being an asshole so I can finally let this go / ‘Cause I’m so tired of sleeping in my jeans.

The lyrics could be deemed as angry, or mean, but in their nonchalant delivery, they don’t seem threatening or all too hurtful. Their calm demeanor of the messages throughout the record just seem like an honest diary entry, and it reads as very endearing rather than attacking.

The seventh track, “Casino Blonde” continues with the clever lyrics, evoking a few small chuckles. I prefer my women sociopathic. Being a good girl won’t get you remembered, come on put my heart in a blender.

The music evokes those good ol’ days of the bright orange Nickelodeon VHS tapes. If I didn’t know better, I’d literally start googling the lyrics to their second-to-last track “Givin It Up” to see if was in the 2000 movie, “Snowday.” And if it wasn’t, I’m blaming the evil “Snow Plow Man.” Look it up if you need to.

Even though the music is new, it feels like a familiar favorite — like a classic old movie that’d you’d forgotten about. You’d seen it so many times before, yet, it’s goodness hasn’t faded away after all this time. It still seems fresh, you still relate, and it still speaks to you. In the best way. Super American is super nostalgic, a trend that will hopefully outlast all Blockbuster movie rental stores, frosted lipgloss, Von Dutch trucker hats, or dresses layered over flare jeans. It feels familiar, but fresh at the same time. Super hard to describe — yet Super American. And proud of it.

 

 

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Sarah Spohn

Sarah's a little bit of a rock 'n' roll rebel, almost always at a concert. She loves to soak up the scene, immersed in the music journalism world, still buys CDs and rents music documentaries from the library. Just don't call her a hipster. She's never been that stylish.

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