Monday, July 8, 2013

Never Shout Never: Sunflower

Well well well.  Here we are again.  Another day, another dollar.  Stuff.  Things.  Etc.  Let's get to it, eh?

So what can I tell you about Never Shout Never? Well, I kind of have no idea, since I'm pretty sure frontman and guitar/ukulele player Christofer Drew Ingle's hair ate my brain as soon as I laid eyes upon it. Seriously. This child probably spends more time on his coif in ONE DAY than I do in a week, and, given the end result, I'm not entirely sure that it's worth the hassle (it does, however, look remarkably like this man's furry ear flap hat, which is almost certainly a bonus). Pushing past the hair, though (as Ingle must have to do each morning), I'll start with the boring stuff: according to Wikipedia, this originally-solo act began with Ingle posting shit on the Internet in 2007 at age 16, and now includes Taylor MacFee on bass and vocals and Hayden Kaiser on guitar, drums, and vocals (this is also the group's fifth full-length release in the last three years). Furthermore, despite my best intentions to find current interviews exclusively, my google search turned up article after article about how Ingle made a same-aged interviewer cry back in 2012 (that second link has Ingle's response, which includes the revelation "I had taken acid earlier that day and we were in the studio, and I like getting weird in the studio and experimenting"), after which he was promptly arrested for marijuana possession. One of the pieces even has a delicious quote from the infamous "source close to us" who revealed that "All I’ve seen him [Drew] do is get high and have sex." To which I say: BUT SURELY HE MUST MAKE TIME FOR POOPING!!! Or is this man-child really some sort of bowel-free Aztec god, as the styling on his website suggests? (note: I have no actual knowledge about how often, where, or whether Huitzilopochtli & co defecated, but I did read every sexy passage in this Aztec-themed historical fiction novel to my elementary-school friends during lunch) (yeah, I was THAT friend, now you know).

Uh... where was I again?  Oh yeah, talking about the not-a-boy, not-yet-a-man living underneath all of those blown-out locks.  Despite the fact that I found the older interviews with Ingle far more interesting than the recent stuff, I was also able to find one relevant to this new album, so let's hit the highlights (no pun intended) (just kidding, I meant that) before we move on to the music. In no particular order, Ingle tells Absolutepunk that Sunflower stands out because "it's definitely more raw, it sounds super "live", which I really enjoy about the record... That was definitely a new sound for us, we kept it super raw and some of it's off pitch, but that's what makes it golden," and that one of the main messages to his music is "telling these kids to follow their dreams, because anything is possible, and the first thing is believing and loving yourself. That's our biggest message - whatever you want to do, you can do it, you just have to believe in yourself and you have to have patience and persistence" (unless, of course, you're a punk-ass blogger with a dream to interview musicians, in which case you should probably just give up before some a-hole makes you cry). And that's pretty much all I have to say about that, since, as mentioned, sweet-Ingle playing nice doesn't make for nearly as good news as feisty-Ingle tripping balls.

Speaking of Ingle tripping balls, let's take a moment to talk about this album.  Oops, was that a confusing segue?  No worries, you'll understand as soon as you put on the record, since Ingle passes out drug references like Halloween candy, and most of these tracks follow a vague, psychedelic-tinged pop path which includes a last-minute breakdown of electric guitar and wandering-tempoed drums.  And if you're anything like me, the song structures I've described will seem completely at odds with The Hair and the Bieber-generation vibe, as well as Ingle's thick, dreamy vocals, which seem better suited to tween girls than the target audience of young, high, neo-psychedelic but vainly-coiffed folks I never knew existed before today.  That being said, I can still say a word or two about a couple of songs, such as first cut "New Sound", which pairs a decidedly Jason Mraz-esque phrasing and coffee shop pace with what I'm assuming to be Beatles-referencing lyrics ("Everybody's hearing a new sound/Old school's coming back around/Hop into the mystery bus let's go/Forget everything you think you know"), and "Wild Child", which is probably the best cut on the album, with a heavily-'70's, panting swagger, a jammin' bass, and some of the album's edgiest lyrics that don't refer to drugs ("You need a wild man/I'll be that wild thing/I need a wild child").  Then, part doo-wop, part oom-pah "Malibu" goes the trashed-at-the-carnival route with a pounding drum and goofy organ-esque background, as well as a bunch of "la la la"s ("I hit rock bottom before I met you/My heavy heart hit the floor/As I observed you smile it's taken you a while/To understand that I ain't foolin' around/When I say you look your best/Without your makeup on").  Oh, and just because I didn't highlight any of the songs with harmonica doesn't mean they're not there: they are.  With extra harmonica.

So what's the verdict?  Honestly, I'm not even sure which route to go with this one - while Ingle certainly has the technical ability to write and sing a song, as well as the nimble fingers it requires to style his mane, I'm not wholly convinced that he has an artistic vision beyond his references.  But of even more concern to me is who the HELL this album is FOR - obviously, I'm too old to enjoy it, and I can only imagine how the parents of the swooning crowd who would go for it might react if they ever bothered to listen to the lyrics.  Basically, it's just WEIRD.  Weirder than chunky ear flap hats, weirder than tiger-lady sex scenes (oh yeah!), weirder than dropping acid before an interview - hell, it's even weirder than Ingle's FREAKING HAIR.  But hey, at least that's fixable.  And Amazon has a great selection of hair cutting shears!


  1. Well, you did succeed in arousing my curiosity; I will listen just to see what someone with such outlandish hair sounds like. Wonder where he will be in 10 years?

    1. He says he will make music forever. Another indication of possible Aztec god status.