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Fire in the Hero Building
Release Date: October 31, 2015
Some bands just ooze cool. Tuff Sunshine is one of those bands. They are a three piece from New York City that puts off a big city sound that is an excellent melding of the classics and the modern. If you were to look for a post-punk side project from Spoon, Koufax, The Velvet Underground and John Lennon there’s a good chance you would end up with something that sounded like Tuff Sunshine. One minute they are an angular rock band that could fit in with the Dischord scene and the next they are spinning a pop melody that wouldn’t be out of place on Let It Be.
There are tracks on this record that really do sound a LOT like Spoon. “Dreaming” is a little less angular than Austin’s finest, but Johnny Leitera sounds almost exactly like Britt Daniels. Another Spoon-ish track is “I Complied” which could be from Spoon’s lost post-punk album. Carrying on the post-punk theme there are tracks where Tuff Sunshine sounds like a Swedish post-punk/garage rock band. “Cough Your Baby Up” sounds a lot like Division of Laura Lee while “I Was a Shaker” sounds like something The (International) Noise Conspiracy could have put out towards the end of their reign. “Rattlin’ Man” is an excellent use of dynamics starting out as an absolute ripper before slowing down and then taking off again.
For me, Tuff Sunshine are at their finest when they let the piano drive their tracks. The title track is slow to get moving sounding like a movie soundtrack with ooohs and aahs in the background before the meat of the song kicks in with a fuzzed out guitars, orchestration and piano moving the song to a jazzy cloud of rock goodness. “Sliding Through My Hands” is a pop-rock gem that pulls its sound from the Stax classics of the 60’s and 70’s. Another track that shows Tuff Sunshine’s sensitive side is “Dynamite” which features some excellent melodic percussion that stands out on a track that would not be out of place on a Velvet Underground record. Another Velvet Underground like song is “Soundwaves”, the album’s closer, reminding me of “Heroin” from The Velvet Underground. It is the only track on the album to feature drummer Ani Cordero (Cordero) on vocals.
All in all, Tuff Sunshine has done a solid job on their debut LP. It’s a bit derivative at times, but there’s enough in the mixture for Fire in the Hero Building to be a solid listen. Pick this up on vinyl and give it a spin. It really deserves to be listened to with the warmth of analog audio behind it.
Reviewed by: Rob 1340