Turn Turn Turn – New Rays From An Old Sun
At first, my cluttered ears were going to suggest this band was a more progressive Abba. But on second listen the arrangements sparkle with 60s aggressive girl group aplomb with its underlying funk groove integrated by rhythm guitars & a thick bouillabaisse bass line. I like it. It’s what’s old is new again.
The poking Motown-type lead guitar jab in “Stranger in a Stranger Land,” & spray of a familiar melody line borders a little on Smoky Robinson’s vocalese effectively. But then “Powder,” applies a short moment of musical flavor rooted in the Gerry Goffin-Carole King tune “Take a Giant Step,” — a hit for The Monkees. But the vocal sound is The Toys, Dixie Cups, The Chiffons & Shangri-Las layered in punkish-stabbing fuzztone lead guitars undeniably sweet.
Produced in Minnesota by multi-instrumentalist Adam Levy the 47-minute, 11-track New Rays From An Old Sun (Drops Jan. 27–Simon Recordings) features Adam’s vocals as well & the focus shifts from melodic aggressive girl group textures to Tony Carey-type progressive-pop ala Planet P (“Pink World”). “Hymn of the Hater,” has plenty of folk-whimsicality, grinding guitars & infectious arrangements that really kick-start this.
Some songs are a bit retro but the application is steadily solid. Like the title of the CD suggests – it’s like new rays from an old sun. It’s a de-mystification of mainstream music because this is what should be pounding in people’s ears. There’s a quality to it all since even though it’s driven by pop music it stirs the blues, whisks progressive rock identities & whips up folksier tunes (“Schisandra” & “Acceleration Dreams”) sound like The New Seekers with the late-great Judith Durham.
“Dopamine Blues,” is a stellar track with its 60s film score daintiness that gets into the ears & stays there for days. The guitars chime like The Byrds with a touch of the urban raunchy guitar slings of The Ventures’ (“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”). I need a bag of popcorn for this song.
A little more Abba-oriented but edgier without being overprocessed “7 Kids,” leaves the notion of what Abba could’ve done had they been heavier musically. This has guitar interplay that will wreak havoc in headphones but leave a smile ear to ear. Impressive.
Musicians: Barb Brynstad (vocals/bass), Savannah Smith (vocals/guitar), Josh Kaplan, Scott Wenum & Noah Levy (drums), Peter J. Sand (Baldwin Electric Harpsichord/Wurlitzer Piano/B3/piano), Joe Savage (pedal steel guitar), Benny Weinbeck (Wurlitzer Electric Piano), with Adam (6-string acoustic & electric guitars/12-string electric/slide electric guitar/banjo/mandolin/glockenspiel/synth/6-string bass/ organ/piano/percussion/vocals).
Not everything hits the target, but the musicianship is always engaging & the songs are memorable. Highlights: “Stranger in a Stranger Land,” “Powder,” “Hymn of the Hater,” “Dopamine Blues,” “7 Kids,” & “New Rays From an Old Sun.”
Color image by Shelly Mosman. CD @ https://turnturnturn.bandcamp.com/album/new-rays-from-an-old-sun-2 + https://www.turnturnturnmpls.com/