Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Favourite Sons - No One Ever Dies Young

(GSL, 2005)

Favourite Sons exists as something of a supergroup in my mind, as the lineup consists of Ken Griffin from Rollerskate Skinny backed by most of Aspera Ad Astra. Both source bands have been personal top-shelfers for a long time, and Aspera’s best period (the Insound Tour Support EP, TigerStyle split with the Lilys, and Sugar & Feathered album) showed that those guys were themselves big fans of Rollerskate Skinny’s two mid-’90s LPs, records that combined the huge melodies of Jones-era Flaming Lips with the sonic maximalism of My Bloody Valentine. The Favourite Sons don’t wander too far from those roots on this first single, though the dizzying layers of sound get peeled back a little for a more streamlined rock sound that emphasizes punchy drums and Griffin’s commanding lead vocal. And while parts of the subsequent Down Beside Your Beauty do indeed get a shade too rawk-y for me at the expense of the shoegaze/weird-out elements, the band’s loopy songwriting smarts are firing full-on with this early stab at “No One Ever Dies Young,” a driving, shoulda-been hit that flips easily between jagged and blissed out in a doggone AOK synthesis of pop, dreamcore, semi-punkiness, and basic r’n’r. Hear it before death, or feel like a chump as the worms get at you; this as good as such things get. No kiddin’. “Pistols and Girls,” however, appearing here in what may be demo form, lacks the creepy psychedelic doominess of the album version and suffers for it; it’s messy, third-tier material in this state and hardly shows any glimmer of what the band would later whip it into.

Inconveniently, this single was made available only through GSL’s “Special 12” singles series, which had to be bought online – expensively – as either a set or a half-set. Since the label’s shuttering in 2007 I’m not too sure where one would come by the record, so be sure to keep them fingers crossed as you paw through the used bins, if such a thing is physically possible. Betcha it isn’t!

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