Sunnyside – Momentum Review
By Bea Willis
Bringing in funky sounds from down under is a band called Sunnyside. This six-piece collective of jamming journeymen (with some classically trained misfits scattered for good measure) makes music that excites more than simply your auditory senses. Music that you can feel, played with a feeling that makes you want to move your body. Their music is vivacious, and their creative process is in the moment. It’s this spontaneity and mystery that makes each song so unique. Sunnyside is: Saxophone – Archibald Jacobs, Guitar – Sam O’Neil, Bass – Gordon Li, Vox/Keys – Matt Hall, Percussion – Mackenzie Randall and Drums – Callum Humphrys. Their first full length album Body Heat, on Marthouse Records, gave the world an introduction to the spontaneity that is Sunnyside. Sunnyside is releasing their highly anticipated 2nd album, Momentum on November 29, 2019. The album is six songs based on Sunnyside’s funk injected psychedelic jazz musical style. The style is bursting with seamless instrumentation and innate improvisation. Taking you from the crooning corners of a dimly lit jazz lounge to the sweaty shoulders of the nightclub, all on the Sunnyside.
“Stretch” establishes a funky groove with Li, Randal and Humphrys doing a feel-good funky groove that the other members build upon. O’Neil’s guitar chords chime in accents as they sustain for colorization. He also builds in percussive lines that introduce Jacobs’ saxophone playing the melody. A band tutti figure takes us to the danceable B section leading to an exceptional ensemble passage signaling the repeat of the form. The two sections are rich in rhythmic diversity and each player adds different articulations that keep the music on edge. The spoken word in the C section does deflate the energy and is not necessary. This does introduce the spoken word in a call and response section between one or two spoken words and instrument melodies. The track has a beautiful arch and danceable funky energy.
“Coconuts” features the soft vocal style of Hall through a funky excursion of tricky band hits and stunning playing. The rhythm section of Li, Randal and Humphry is an absolute beast. The three keep the feeling sitting perfectly as they still interact and breathe life into the beat. The songs icing is Jacobs’ saxophone playing and the backing vocals. The song is repetitive in all the right places and transitions to the next section at just the right moments. Sunnyside is sure to throw in surprises, the feel change at the end of the track is a great example of the surprises that await.
The band’s motto is “move the body, stretch the mind, groove to a Sunnyside” and that motto really does sum up Momentum. This is six tracks of music that is deep in the funky groove, while still having melodic catchiness and interesting compositions. Though Sunnyside is a six-piece collective of jamming journeymen, they keep the music centered around strong feels and melodic hooks that invite listening and dancing.