Sun Gods in Exile are:
Tony D'Agostino: Guitars
Adam Hitchcock: Guitars & Vocals
John Kennedy: Drums & Percussion
John Lennon: Bass
Chris Neal: Keys, Slide Guitar, Harmonica, Backing Vocals
Recorded at Mad Oak Studios, Allston, MA.
Recorded, produced, and mixed Benny Grotto.
Mastered by Chris Goosman, Basline Audio Labs, Ann Arbor, MI
Album artwork and layout by Alexander von Wieding.
Music by Sun Gods In Exile.
Lyrics by Adam Hitchcock.
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP)
Formed in early 2008 in Portland, Maine this group of guys play southern influenced hard rock that grabs you and kicks ass right from the start. With hints of AC/DC, some boogie, some blues, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, and other shit-kicking bands, they have formulated a mixture of their influences to create a sound that is infectious and heartfelt.
The guitars of Tony D’Agostino and Adam Hitchcock burn through riffs and terrific solos, bassist John Lennon and drummer John Kennedy lock in the grooves as much as they stomp, and Chris Neal brings keys, slide and harp to the mix. Hitchcock’s rough-and-ready vocals allows him to sing as much as growl through these tightly played songs. The southern fried boogie of “Nobody Knows”, the blues of “Climb Down”, the balladry of the title track, all exude heart on the sleeve approach to their craft. “Hammer Down”, “Writing’s On the Wall”, and “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” have energy and enough guitar playing to satisfy the most picky of fans of southern rock.
This band has taken the southern rock sound and brought it up north and still managed to keep that swampy, blues boogie feel alive. This is a terrific album, the kind that should be played on radio, but won’t because of how sad radio is now, not because of the quality of this album because this is top quality tunage!
Sun Gods in Exile play rawk n' roll. It's rowdy, it's loud, it's abrasive, it's relentless, it's tinged with a Southern sound reminiscent of a dozen great bands, from now and down through the decades. It still brings its very own, bourbon inflected sound that you simply cannot sit still for. It moves you, it relates to you, and it pleases you to no end, because this is both fresh and exciting at the same time as the music you grew up with. It is all the great bands past and present you cannot get enough of. The songs are melodic and familiar, and easily sung to. There may not be a more listener friendly set of songs than on "Thanks For the Silver", and we're talking about a sizeable set of songs, with ten incredible tracks that could quite likely burn your place down if you don't pay attention while playing. You will not be able to get enough of "Thanks for the Silver".
There is a strong blues rock component to SGIE's sound, reminiscent a bit of The Black Crowes, among others, with a considerably heavier dosage of guitar riffs ensconced within a huge phalanx of bass, drums, more guitar, and various other fun sounds that create the larger than life sound this furnace blast band emanates with an obvious joy. These guys go all out when they play and it's obvious they have just as much fun playing as you will listening.
"Climb Down" is a prime example of the classic and fresh sound SGIE have created on this album, hitting a reminiscent sound to the aforementioned Black Crowes. "Since I've Been Home" will rock you all the way to point it then pulls on your heart strings in the chorus, reaching down through the tunnels of time to one of those smoke filled, whiskey splashed joints of past times and fuzzy memories. If you want scorching solos check out "Broken Bones" where fire is a likely outcome and Molly may bring out her hatchet for a second or two. "Nobody Knows" is a dance hall summer storm, blowing through at a quick and catchy clip, blowing up skirts in its wake and likely wearing out a hole or two in shoe leather to boot. For sheer beauty it's hard to beat the title track, "Thanks for the Silver".
You can't help but have a good time when you play through "Thanks for the Silver". Sun Gods in Exile are a tightly knit fivesome that know how to deliver music that tugs at the ol' heartstrings while providing the homage to the Guitar Gods we pray to daily.
There’s a great section in The Acid Archives (Guide to Underground Sounds ‘65-‘82) written by Rich Haupt on the many shapes and flavours of southern rock. What it doesn't extend to cover is the modern school of bands who play in the style but don’t emanate from anywhere near the southern half of the US of A. Sun Gods in Exile are such a band, hailing from Portland, Maine, which is about as far north as America extends before you start to get into Sarah Palin territory.
The band play super heavy southern boogie with obligatory macho lyrics, which might be pretty boring were it not for the superb riffs and melodies they employ throughout the album. In particular, the anthemic ‘Hammerdown’ and ‘Since I’ve Been Home’ are definite stand-outs.
Frankly southern rock isn’t really quite my thing but equally it’s hard to deny the exuberance and quality of the music. How southern gents feel about the authenticity of their cousins from north of the Mason-Dixon line is another matter.
- Austin Matthews
This is not because giants such as The Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top and Molly Hatchett were down regime and simply publish 'Best Of', the 'Live' album of covers or the Rock Southern said its last word. There is indeed a relief and it now goes by the City of Portland (Maine) with the Sun Gods In Exile.
The group, formed in early 2008, by guitarists Tony D'Agostino and Adam Hitchcock, bassist and drummer John Lennon Johnny Kennedy publishes in 2010 their first album ("Black Light, White Lines") facing a very hard rock 'roll and Burne fat that puts them straight into the category of' bands for bikers. However, the four outlaws prefer the smell of horse and prairie to that of motor oil and bitumen. And to highlight these tendencies guilty on their second album ("Thanks For The Silver"), they appoint the services of Chris Neal, who, with a lot of keyboards, slide guitar and harmonica, the tilts in the world of Southern Rock.
If the voice of Adam Hitchcock is eerily similar to Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), the cavalcades epic, lengthy guitar duels and loans to blues to country and instead refer to the classic style of the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The keyboards of Chris Neal, who are everywhere, providing a more pleasant color vintage to new compositions.
Friend of the Great Outdoors, horseback riding in the Rocky Mountains of Southwestern cuisine, Whiskey and heavy rock'n'roll that swings and slide: "Thanks For The Silver" will be your companion.
Maybe Bobby Ingram, the man in charge of Molly Hatchet, could be slightly jealous of the creative freedom of the guitarists of Sun Gods In Exile. On one hand it looks like everything in the songs is at service of the abundance of guitar wealth, on the other hand the guitars “feel” improvised and expressive, but very attractive and fitting. I certainly do not intend to underrate the well oiled rhythm section, the raw, yet soulful vocals, or the very catchy solid song material, but it’s the fabulous guitars that take the music to an absolute high. Maybe one can even criticise that from technical point of view, but every single note seems to be loaded with emotion.
The songs might be slightly less repetitive in the riffs, but they never lose their huge drive. Also there can be found more boogie, soul and groove compared with the more stoner based debut album. This time also some Black Crowes influences can be discovered for example. Despite the prominent role for the guitars, they seem to have found some space for an authentic Hammond organ also, and believe it or not, this can even add some value to the music, without having to battle the guitars; a huge compliment for arranging the instruments and song structures. This one is an absolute must have for anyone into solid blues/southern rock with heavy early seventies influences and a main role for smoking, growling and screaming guitars!
There are some things you just know… a band with such a name, album title, record company and appearance could only mean one thing… pure rawk!
And the truth is that the Sun Gods here don’t want to prove a series of well-put and deep arguments wrong. On the contrary, with their 10 explosive tunes they are offering one of the best old school, dirty, rawk albums so far this year. The guitars are in continuous overdrive, while there are some moments that they give you the impression that they forgot to stop soloing. As you can see on their bio, challenging you to steal their catch-phrase, the band looks like a bottle of Jack in a Mormon wedding. Without any further exaggeration, since if you browse Rockpages.gr you will find loads of such bottles, it’s enough to say that Sun Gods know how to steer up their influences of Eagles, Grand Funk, Skynyrd, Allman Brothers to make an enjoyful rock album.
With songs like “Hammerdown”, “Moonshine” and “Since I’ve Been Home” “Thanks For The Silver” will take you on a musical journey to the Wild West…
- Yiannis Dolas
Summer approaches, man, and with it comes one of the most satisfying of American cheap thrills: the road trip. Cruising down the open road, windows down with a destination in mind, a hard-driving man deserves more than the fickle static and lengthy bill-paying advertising breaks of regional commercial rock radio. And I don’t know about you, but another 12-hour stint behind the wheel with the same ol’ AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Skynyrd hits will surely send me careening across the interstate divider and into oncoming traffic. Thankfully, Portland, ME’s Sun Gods In Exile took that classic hard rock sound and crafted a southern-fried record that puts goof troopers like Hellyeah and Kid Rock entirely to shame.
Thanks For The Silver (Small Stone) wastes little time in getting to the point, as opener “Hammerdown” slams the gas pedal against the metal, intent on leaving cops, cars, and troubles in the dust. “Nobody Knows” and “Broken Bones” follow suit and do so with gusto and swagger. Rock balladry is a must for the long haul, and SGIE deliver an unsubtle soaring Black Crowes vibe with cuts like “Since I’ve Been Home.” Though devoid of that band’s pop sensibilities and with vocalist Adam Hitchcock’s lacking Chris Robinson’s distinctive extremes, by the time “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” winds down, the destination grows gratifyingly closer.
- Gary Suarez
Portland based Sun Gods In Exile may not look like your average Southern rock band but their sound is right bang in there between Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes. New album “Thanks for The Silver” is the bands second and as with their debut (“Black Light, White Lines”) mixes Southern and classic rock to fine effect.
Opening track “Hammer Down” may be AC/DC infused but tracks like “Writings On The Wall”, “Climb Down” and the album’s title track, ballad “Thanks For The Silver” should all be enough to fill the hole left by the recent hiatus undertaken by The Black Crowes, the slide guitar on the latter is some of the best you will hear all year.
Album closer “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” is the kind of 6 and a half minute jam track that The Four Horsemen did so well, whilst “Smoke & Fire” locks into a groove and sits on it. “Broken Bones” and “Nobody Knows” are also well worth a listen.
If you like bands like Rival Sons, The Black Crowes, The Four Horsemen and Lynyrd Skynyrd, then you will definitely enjoy Sun Gods In Exile.
- Nikk Gunns
Southern rock re-fried for a new generation, with surprisingly good results.
Anyone who enjoyed the recent BBC4 documentary on southern rock, or Soul Jazz Records' excellent genre compilation will be pleased to know that it's alive and well, though geographically its source may have shifted. Current torch-bearers of the southern rock scene Sun Gods In Exile hail from Portland, Oregon, a town more usually associated with college rock and cerebral bearded folksiness. The fact that the band have chosen to play such a back to basics style of music, and pulled it off with panache is proof of southern rock's durability. The perennial concerns of good loving, beer, a decent smoke and choice drugs are present in the lyrics of front man Adam Hitchcock, with a pleasing balance of moods across the ten tracks. From hedonistic rockers such as the opening track Hammer Down, through the rolling grooves of Moonshine, to the weary comedown vibes of Since I've Been Home and the album's title track.
Thanks For The Silver is the band's second album, following on from their debut, 2009's Black Light, White Lines. Musically it's two parts The Black Crowes' Southern Harmony And Musical Companion, and one part the sleazy swagger of Exile On Main Street. And while it's not quite up there with those masterpieces in terms of surefire killer tunes it still packs a fair punch. Fans of the genre will find much to like here, be it the twin guitar attack of Smoke & Fire, the good-time boogie feel of Nobody Knows or the presence of soulful organ across most of the album. Though not too high in the mix it's the organ, along with occasional piano, that could well be the record's not so secret ingredient. Check out the title track and you'll see what I mean. The song's sense of morning after regretfulness perfectly offset by churchy organ swells. The secular meets the sacred as it were. With this song in particular the band have come up with the kind of vulnerable country rock that Primal Scream tried so hard to make post-Screamadelica. Wonder if Bobby's listening?
- Duncan Fletcher
Hailing from the United States, Portland, Maine’s rock and roller’s Sun Gods In Exile deliver their sophomore album Thanks For The Silver, due for release in April 2012.
The album doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does it claim to – this is straight up blues rock that has essentially been built with fun and good times in mind. Fans of AC/DC and The Cult in particular will instantly recognize traits of those bands on Thanks For The Silver, as the guitars are very Angus/Malcolm Young-esque in both playing style and tone, while frontman Adam Hitchcock delivers a solid, Ian Astbury-like performance throughout.
Opener Hammer Down makes for a raucous, rousing start to the album, although the next few songs plod along somewhat inoffensively, lacking any real urgency or tempo. Things are brought up to the quality of the opener with Since I’ve Been Home and Broken Bones, with the latter featuring an interesting keyboard/percussion led interlude followed by one of the better guitar solos on the record. Nobody Knows, meanwhile, is the sound of Sun Gods In Exile at their best - fast and full of attitude and swagger.
The penultimate song on the album and title-track is a more heartfelt, consciously slower affair than the previous eight songs, making good use of Hitchcock’s voice and Tony D’Agostino’s nifty guitar work. The last two songs, however, with a combined play time of over 14 minutes, could perhaps be accused of dragging on for a little too long.
Most of the songs on Thanks For The Silver Follow a consistent albeit repetitive format which makes for a somewhat monotonous listen on occasion - the similar-sounding introductory bars of Climb Down, Broken Bones, Smoke and Fire and I Buried My Bitch’s Car being a case in point. While the songs may be a little repetitive in places, you can’t fault the overall quality of the tunes: they are generally well constructed and feature strong performances from all five musicians.
If whisky-swigging, boot-tapping southern blues rock is your thing, then you will find much to enjoy on this record – but by the same token, those who are not inclined to a bit of classic rock are unlikely to be swayed. Overall, a decent effort.
- Ben Cable
There was once a moment in time, when people from all around, would travel to see a band play. In a concert, on a festival , where nature would occupy your senses, where people would congregate for days, where nothing else mattered but the music that was on display. Something so common back then, when times were easier. Only the music mattered. When we were together in the open, under the blazing blue sky, in a hot sticky summer place, with the people gathered for some good hard rock, a world away is where we were, when our mind was only relating to the boogie that was being hammered down. Where we had no worries, everyone around us, a sea of bodies, as one altogether intertwined, for the music from all these smokin’ bands. And we drank the moonshine & danced away. There were no rules, no limits, and no writings on this wall. And as the bands played, we would climb down the hills and rush the stage. And we never felt alone, never felt so good, everyone was in this to the very end, and for days it would be like this, because it was known since I’ve been here I’ve been home.
These were the days that meant something, that gave music its life. There were no broken bones, nothing to stop the people, the kids, the lifestyle. They all had the legs to want and to deliver themselves into an atmosphere where they belonged. And on those nights, while the bands continued to play, we had a smoke and fire, everyone there, but in mind & body nobody knows, how could they be aware? And they would share everything they had, a stranger these places did not know. And this is the time that I’d love to be at, in those places, where those bands forced you to drive that extra highway mile. And maybe the people had to beg, to ask for a little hope, to borrow and when it was all done, we said thanks for the silver. Those were the days. One day, two days and even three, and the music just did not stop. Those were the days. In that time, a place that my mind likes to visit sometimes. I know I’d bury my bitch’s car to get there.
This, the second release by Sun Gods in Exile is like a great southern rock journey. Without a doubt, to these ears, this is the music that was made to be played for a large audience. Maybe not as “heavy” as their first Small Stone release, it is certainly not any weaker. They have expanded their sound, adding a bit more blues and boogie this time around. Shit, one cannot go wrong with that. I can easily suggest this album to anyone who likes their rock music with a southern twist, and really just anyone who enjoys a great rock record. It has had many; many plays here, and I keep hearing new music within the music I have already heard. Now you can’t beat that, can you?
As indicated by their chosen name, the members of Portland, Maine's Sun Gods in Exile carry themselves like a bunch of L.A. hard rock outcasts temporarily forced to hack out a lumberjack's existence at the country' opposite extremity -- geographically, philosophically, weather-wise, you get the picture... The quartet's sophomore album, 2012's Thanks for the Silver, certainly backs up this state of mind with countless organ-kissed guitar bombers, so bronzed from cruising convertibles down Pacific Coast Highways of the mind's eye, that they need especially dark shades to ward off the glare of their own daydreams. "Hammer Down," "Climb Down," "Nobody Knows," and many more such tracks could easily claim kinship with the late-'80's L.A. cock rock scene's make-up-rejecting minority -- you know, dark side of the strip bands like Junkyard, the Four Horsemen, even Burning Tree; bands whose major influences were actually AC/DC or the Faces (the oddly named "I Buried My Bitch's Car" literally rewrites "(I Know) I'm Losing You"), not Aerosmith and Van Halen (not that there's anything wrong with that!). For good measure, in case the New England winter should prove particularly bleak in the real world, a generous serving of Southern rock trimmings also flavor the easy strut of "Since I've Been Home" and the stripped-down, Black Crowes-inspired earthiness of the title track. The latter is a stark reminder that, in spite of most all appearances, we're still a long way from the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Nevertheless, one gets the feeling that Sun Gods in Exile are actually quite thankful, deep down, that so many intervening miles and years categorically separate their music's grittier qualities from the vapid nonsense produced by the spandex-sporting, Aquanet-spraying hordes of yesteryear.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Sometimes you get to know a record label and you'll pretty much take anything the label has to offer. This has kind of gotten to be the case with me and Small Stone Records. This is a label that does a lot of great hard rock and the latest one that was delivered to me is no exception.
Before I get to my thoughts, allow me to say that sometimes the promo material describes the music better than I ever could. On the band's Facebook page, the music is described as "southern fried biker boogie rock" that is "like a bottle of Jack Daniel's at a Mormon wedding." See what I mean about being a better description than I could provide?
Sun Gods in Exile, like another Small Stone band (Five Horse Johnson) is not afraid to incorporate the harmonica. At first, it seems like an odd combo: hard rock and harmonica. But I'm telling you, it works. Just listen to "Moonshine" and tell me if you agree. This is a song that not only features some good harmonica, but also a wicked guitar solo.
This album definitely has some 70s southern rock qualities. "Since I've Been Home" in particular brings bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd to mind. It rocks, but it also has a jam at the end that is reminiscent of Skynyrd. The vocals are probably a little more like Molly Hatchet (especially in "Broken Bones"), but I'd say a little deeper and raspier.
The album closes with "I Buried My B****'s Car." With the organ, the guitars and the overall mood, this song feels a lot like a Drive-By Truckers song.
If you like 70s rock or if you just feel like your collection could use some southern fried biker boogie rock, go out and get Thanks for the Silver, which is available Tuesday 24 April.
- Gary Schwind
I’m sure that most of you are familiar with Portland, Maine’s hard rocking, beer drinking heavy blues rockers Sun Gods in Exile. Besides having a wicked cool name, these guys also have a talent for making a kick ass rock record. ’Thanks for the Silver’ was cut in late 2010 by the incomparable engineering mastermind Benny Grotto, who also produced the record, at Small Stone Record’s go to house of recording, Mad Oak Studios.
So what happened? They killed it. That’s what happened. My first impression of the record was how HUGE it sounds. The guitars are loud as fuck…which if you don’t know, is no easy feat. SGIE have the swagger of The Black Crowes (during the re-hab years, aka when they ROCKED) but with louder amps ala Thin Lizzy and Areosmith. Another favorite aspect is that there is even an organ in the mix, which makes any rock record a better listening experience for this guy right here. There’s plenty of huge riffs and harmonized guitar lines played over a rock steady rhythm section. If anything, my gripe is that they rely on the huge guitar sound, maybe, too much. I could go for a more dynamic sound, but hey, that’s just me. Sure, the title track is a southern rock ballad, but aside from that you have 9 songs crammed with cranked Marshalls blasting you in the ears. Some bands prefer to blow you away for 40 minutes without a break, so in that respect, bravo guys. If you like huge sounding blues rock guitar licks that lay out the perfect soundtrack for getting loaded with your fellow bearded brethren….give Thanks for the Silver a much deserved spin.
- Ian Gerber
One of the odder phenomena in the underground rock scene in the past decade has been the rise of Southern rock bands that aren’t from the South. Pennsylvania’s Raging Slab kicked this undercurrent off, while Detroit label Small Stone has stoked the flames ever since. (Cf. New York’s Brought Low, Boston’s Antler, Jersey’s Halfway to Gone, Ohio’s Five Horse Johnson.) In a way it’s the same aesthetic as the blues – you don’t have to be a black sharecropper to play it, arguments over authenticity aside. Ultimately, regional origin matters less than artistic intent.
In that light, the boys in Sun Gods in Exile – who hail from Portland, Maine, i.e. as far away from the South as you can get and not be in Canada – ride the groove like they’re black (that’s Black Oak Arkansas, Blackfoot and the Black Crowes) through and through. On Thanks for the Silver, the band’s second LP, the guitars of Tony D’agostino and Adam Hitchcock burn and sweat, riffs outnumbering solos and the blues just next door. Bassist John Lennon (not that one) and drummer John Kennedy swing as much as they stomp, and utility man Chris Neal fills in the holes with keys, slide and harp. Hitchcock’s rough-and-ready larynx boasts a suppleness that allows him to sing as much as growl.
Best of all, the band is more about songs than solos. The skillet-fried boogie of “Nobody Knows,” the bluesy anthemry of “Climb Down” and the lighter-waving balladry of the title track don’t come off as set-ups for harmony guitar wank – these tracks prefer to hit hard, leave a mark and saunter away. Hitchcock wears his heart on his sleeve next to his tattoos, making “Hammer Down” and “Writing’s On the Wall” more than just bruisers and even a song entitled “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” much more than just a cheap shot. Put more simply,Thanks for the Silver is not victory of style over substance, but an example of a regional style successfully appropriated by an artist that needs it get its vision across properly. Or it’s just a bloody good rock & roll record. Either way is cool.
- Michael Toland
The debut album of SUN GODS IN EXILE, 'Black Light, White Lines' was one of my personal musical highlights in 2009. This was particularly due to the fact that these guys were able to write irresistible, hook laden songs. Moreover, they have an excellent and charismatic singer in their ranks. Because of my enthusiasm I did an interview (click here) with the guys to find out more about the magic of SUN GODS IN EXILE. Since then, a few have years have passed and sometimes I was afraid that these cats call it quits but fortunately, I was mistaken. Finally, SUN GODS IN EXILE are back, equipped with their second album. There have been a couple of changes to ensure that the listener will discover a new side of their sound.
Their hard-edged rock has not only been strongly extended towards southern rock, but also for a fifth band member named Christopher Neal, who is playing keyboards and slide guitar. With 'Thanks For The Silver', SUN GODS IN EXILE crafted a very strong album of 1970's-tinged southern rock, that runs the spectrum from loud and nasty to spiritual and deep although its sound and feel never dares to stray from the hard rock base on which it is planted. 'Thanks For The Silver' is insanely loaded with a potential so dangerous that it should soon become apparent to you that there's a gunslinger on the cover for no small reason. The bullets will hit you, but when it hits, it is sweet ambrosia. From the opening chords of 'Hammer Down', I was grabbed and once again vocalist/guitarist Adam Hitchcock delivers that tune with flawless perfection. But in other respects, too, the band cuts a damn fine figure. The keyboards of Chris Neal fit perfectly with the song, giving the impression that he was in the band right from the start.
'Smoke And Fire' leaves the southern path and is reminiscent of Ted Nugent whereas 'Broken Bones' could've been an outtake from the great debut full-length. The title track is the ultimate blues-soaked power ballad by the band. I can well imagine that some people would call that tune kitschy, but I really like the soulful Skynyrd-esque vibe here. Well actually, I could say a few good words about each song (a total of 10) on this album, because I can't find a weak one. SUN GODS IN EXILE is a band that packs a punch and 'Thanks For The Silver' is a smashing successor, even though I don't think it's better than 'Black Light, White Lines'.
Well good God y’all!!! When the Sun Gods’ debut, “Black Light, White Lines” landed in 2009 it was a fine, smokey blast of southern fried hard and heavy rock and roll that was busting at the seams with tasty tunes and a raw edge that showed a shit ton of promise. Three years on and these boys have aged like a fine oak casked bourbon to deliver album number two.
The first thing you notice on spinning this release is a distinct “southerning” up of the bands core sound. For a band that live within spitting distance of Canada, Sun Gods nail that dusty good time rock and roll vibe that blends AC/DC with The Black Crowes and routes it via some tasty Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet inspired whisky drinkin’ hard rock. “Hammer Down” opens the whole shebang with some fine DCish riff action and Adam Hitchcock’s much improved 40 a day soulful growl very much to the fore. “Moonshine”, featuring organ and harmonica from new boy Chris Neal is a sexy 70’s bar room romp that could have been lifted from any prime Burt Reynolds movie!!!
Overall there has been a slight softening of the band’s sound. The guitars are less reliant on stinging fuzz and are allowed to ring out to much greater effect. Neal’s subtle but deft touches of organ, piano and harmonica never colour the band’s core sound too heavily but add that extra dimension to lift the songs into southern rocking heaven. The guitar pairing of Hitchcock and Tony D’Agostino that were all over the first album like crabs in a cathouse are still very much in evidence making this a guitar lover’s jizz fest as the duo trade lines like Yngwie Malmsteen never existed!!!
“Writing’s On The Wall” breaks out some tasty Faces meets Black Crowes style grooves before the Black Crowes influence becomes more evident on the more restrained southern cruncher “Climb Down” that pushes the organ further forward (ooer!!!). Whereas the first album may have occasionally flirted with metal on occasion, “Thanks For The Silver” has firmly kicked this into touch in favour of big rolling, dusty grooves and a generally more wistful vibe.
The boys bust out the rock again on “Since I’ve Been Home” which kicks off like an unholy amalgam of Foghat meets Chuck Berry before a fat assed Black Crowes style one-two guitar riff heralds the verse before heading into one of the album’s most memorable vocal refrains. You may have noticed the Black Crowes have had more than a couple of mentions so far. That’s because that band’s first two records, before the psychedelics took hold, really laid the foundations for an album such as this to be made in making the transition from the Allman’s first forays into southern rock, through The Faces boozy crunch via Humble Pie to modern hard rock…and that is exactly where this album is pitching.
“Broken Bones” is reprised from Ripple Music’s “Heavy Ripples” double split 7” set also featuring Stone Axe, Mighty High and Grifter. In this incarnation though the song has greater drive and urgency and sounds more confident and rocking than the earlier version…though that is no excuse not to go and buy the original to make the comparison yourselves! “Smoke And Fire” is a darker little number that increases the groove and harks back to the 70’s hard rocking sounds of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” and some of Kiss’ heavier moments and gives drummer Johnny Kennedy a chance to break out the cowbell.
The Sun Gods finally break out a 12 bar boogie on “Nobody Knows” which burns with a hard edged Skynyrd fire and features one of the album’s stand out choruses and allows Hitchcock and D’Agostino to bust out their Rossington/Collins inspired chops. Newcomer Neal also chips in some tasty bar room piano action to complete the picture.
No southern inspired album should be without the heartfelt ballad and in the title track “Thanks For The Silver” plays one of its ace cards as organ and piano back up Hitchcock’s finest and most heartfelt performance on the album. In true style the song gradually builds through its 7 plus minutes to include some “Freebird” style slide and Neal’s most significant contributions so far as the guitar is pushed to the back ground for a good portion of the song’s length. There is a new found level of maturity in this one song that one suspects the band could never have hoped to achieve on their debut.
The album rounds off with the charmingly titled “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” which once again steps into Black Crowes territory with an easy groove and guitars front and centre. Overall the production on this album, once again courtesy of Mr. Benny Grotto, is a vast improvement over the debut. Whereas that album bristled with a naïve charm but sounded slightly rushed, this time round the sound has been tailored perfectly to fit the rough hewn vintage sounds the band is creating. It also has to be said the debut was the sound of a band in its relative infancy but this is now a band a full four years into their lifecycle that has toured and rocked together and grown as a unit.
I have a horrible feeling this album may find itself derided for its reliance on old school southern charm and for not being stoner or doom or even metal but that would be to do a very fine piece of work a horrible disservice. Sun Gods In Exile are most definitely not pandering to any trends and have created an album brimming with heart and soul. Sure, they may not geographically be a southern rock band but in their guts they’re drinking from the same bottle as the Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and, yes, The Black Crowes. Sun Gods In Exile may well prove to be the undiscovered jewel in Small Stone’s crown.
- Ollie Stygall
Sun Gods in Exile aren’t disgraced deities. No, I’d call ‘em Camaro cowboys, muscle car mobsters shakin’ down merchants, barkeeps, and wenches from Portland to El Paso. They’re outlaws with a mind to control the classic rock racket one laid back, Southern-fried riff at a time. Intentions regarding their sophomore album, Thanks for the Silver, were made perfectly clear when they brought in newest member Christopher Neal to lay down all kinds of organ, harmonica, and slide guitar, and so it is that the revved up motor roll of 2009′s Black Light, White Lines has been smoothed out and grooved on. It’s only appropriate that Thanks for the Silver tote titles like “Hammer Down,” “Moonshine,” “Since I’ve Been Home,” “Broken Bones,” and “Smoke and Fire,” but be it biker glam or ballad, it’ll all remind you of either AC/DC, New American Shame, The Four Horseman, or Antler. That means listening to this will make you feel like you’re gettin’ drunk on a jug fulla sunshine boogie, so pony up yer thirty pieces, partner, because you’re about to have a bloozy good time.
- Jeff Warren
Thanks For the Silver is the latest release from Detroit dude Scott Hamilton’s Small Stone Records, and it is the label’s best in some time. This may be because the band aren’t strictly stoner rock, although the band’s boozy hard rock will appeal to fans of that genre. The diversity is nice. So anyway, fans of Rose Tattoo, Motorhead and early Aerosmith will love this shit.
- Brett Callwood
Portland, Maine, rockers Sun Gods in Exile make no bones about who they are or what they do. Their second album, Thanks for the Silver (Small Stone), is guitar rock all the way through – a dudely amalgam of Southern riffing and solos that puts a figurative edge to the literal “double-guitar” lineup distinction. It’s easy to imagine six-string connoisseurs swishing the work of Tony D’Agostino and Adam Hitchcock around a brandy snifter to air them out – or at very least popping the top of a can and enjoying the hiss and the fizz as a song like “Moonshine” plays out its Southern course. At times Thanks for the Silver is almost a caricature of heavy Southern rock masculinity, and coming from a band located in the northernmost state in the continental US, that has its own issues, but damned if the five-piece don’t do it well, and the sophomore outing shows marked growth from where their 2009 debut, Black Light, White Lines (review here) left off, most notably with the inclusion of Christopher Neal’s keyboards.
The effect Neal has on Sun Gods in Exile’s sound is to add melodic range and complement the riffs with long-sustained notes, as on a song like “Smoke and Fire” on the second half of the album, on which he fills out the verses behind Hitchcock’s lead vocals (everyone but D’Agostino provides backups), or “Since I’ve Been Home,” a classic road song in the same tradition with which labelmates Dixie Witch often align themselves. Despite its liberal soloing and guitar prominence, “Since I’ve Been Home” – as close as the 10-track Thanks for the Silver gets to a centerpiece – is a highlight more for Hitchcock’s vocals and those that back him for what’s probably the album’s most memorable chorus. Earlier cuts like the opening duo “Hammer Down” and “Moonshine” find D’Agostino and Hitchcock, as well as bassist JL (since replaced by his brother, Mark Lennon) and drummer John Kennedy, purposefully making room to account for Neal in the songwriting. The Hammond sounds add flourish to the riffs but are almost always in service to the guitar, as are the bulk of the rhythms, as are the structures, the vocals, and so on. If you’re someone who tunes out solos or thinks they’re needless wankery or if you’re even slightly unimpressed by scorching leads, Sun Gods in Exile simply is not the band for you. Their ballsy classicism – excellently balanced by Benny Grotto’s recording job and mix – won’t so much touch a nerve as get on one, and, frankly, you’ll miss the point of Thanks for the Silver, which if I haven’t yet made it clear, is all in the guitar.
Hell, I like riffs, and I like solos, and there were still parts of the album where I felt like I was being tested. Seven out of the 10 of these songs start with guitar, and only one begins with another instrument solo (that’d be “Moonshine,” and the drums), and most follow the same kind of structure and pacing so that, by the time the 55-minute album is over, it’s easy to feel like parts of it are a mash of boozy leads. Songs like “Climb Down” and the more grooving “Smoke and Fire” rock and rock hard, but Thanks for the Silver starts to feel samey after a while, and although the title-track is a Black Crowes-style ballad and a marked change of mood and tempo, it’s also the second to last song on the album in front of closer “I Buried My Bitch’s Car” and comes well after it should in the overall progression of the record. These songs flow – and the titular one easily has Neal’s best performance on keys; leaving behind the organ for genuine piano sounds – but are bloated at around 4:30-5:45 apiece (the first seven, anyway – “Nobody Knows” is a barn-burner at 3:17 and the last two are longer) and wind up detracting from Sun Gods in Exile’s obviously capable songwriting through methodological similarities and consistency in pace.
Add to that the feeling that the band is still adjusting to the inclusion of Neal to the lineup in terms of their craft, and Thanks for the Silver can seem off-balance as compared to the first album, which was nothing if not assured in its whiskey-breath swagger. That said, I think it’s also stronger from a songwriting standpoint, and an interesting beginning of a new era for the band, with added potential from the keys for sonic variety and more breadth of mood. They’re not there yet, though. Sun Gods in Exile still have some growing to do in terms of honing their Southern rock craft, but after two albums, I’m still pulling for them, and I still think there’s a lot of potential here. As it is, they’re good at what they do – if they weren’t, these solos would fall completely flat, and they don’t at all – but Thanks for the Silver comes off more as a collection of decent tracks than the cohesive whole one might want it to be. Still, one can’t argue with a killer riff, and there’s nothing to Sun Gods in Exile if there isn’t a steady supply of those.
- H.P. Taskmaster