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The Sonics and the original Seattle sound

The Sonics

Here Are The Sonics!!!

Released: May 3rd, 1965

8.5
Album Review The Sonics

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

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The Sonics originally hail from the Tacoma/Seattle, Washington area; a fact that makes the band’s name more than just happy accident. As many would be aware, the Seattle area is home to the Boeing aviation company--pioneers in civilian supersonic aircraft (among other things), most notable of which was dubbed The Concorde. The inception of The Concorde Project dates back to the mid 1950s, but it wasn’t until the early 60s that its supersonic technology began to make headlines--indeed, right around the time a band called The Sonics was formed by guitarist Larry Parypa.

Sonic Booms can basically be defined as shock waves created by an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound. These waves generate enormous amounts of sound energy, much like an explosion.

Perhaps more interesting than The Sonics being named after a hallmark innovation from their own state, however, is just how much the band’s sound could be said to resemble the aviation concept of

can basically be defined as shock waves created by an object traveling through the air faster than the speed of sound. These waves generate enormous amounts of sound energy, much like an explosion.

What better way is there to summarise the sound of The Sonics’ debut LP ? Seriously, though... I’ve certainly been guilty in the past of looking for cheap metaphors to describe something I’m hard-up describing on my own terms. But in the case of it really doesn't feel like cutting corners to point out the coincidental link between the sound of the record and that of a

The Sonics and the original Seattle sound
The Sonics and the original Seattle sound

Maybe it’s something native to the Seattle or greater Washington region. That is, a desire to make really loud stuff. Look at it: not only did the and rip-roaring band The Sonics come from the region; so too did grunge rockers Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains; along with the one-man NBA scream-fest, otherwise known as Shawn Kemp (born in Indiana but rose to prominence as a marquee player for the Seattle Supersonics; also coincidentally attended Concord High School); not to mention the loudest football stadium in America is also in Seattle (home to the Seattle Seahawks). Perhaps, then, when Mudhoney’s Mark Arm described ‘Grunge’ music as "Pure Noise", he wasn’t so much describing a sub-genre of music as he was capitulating the atmosphere of his home state and the concomitant effects upon its inhabitants.

...if you’re a lover of raw vibes, à la those more recently captured by bands like The White Stripes, then this record will be right up your alley.

Read into the subtext as far as I have or not, there’s little denying the explosive quality of It was punk-rock before punk-rock, which is maybe why so many punk-rock bands have cited it as an influence--see The Fall and Nirvana, for instance. Everything seems to shred at eleven on this record. In other words, no matter how low you set the volume levels it still feels like your speakers are going to frazz out and explode--a notion only compounded with each of Gerry Roslie’s shrieking howls throughout the album.

The Sonics and the original Seattle sound
The Sonics released their debut album Here Are The Sonics in early 1965.

Enjoyment of is obviously going to depend on whether high octane, visceral rock and roll is your thing--clean-tone/easy-listening aficionados are probably not going to love this album. But if you’re a lover of raw vibes, à la those more recently captured by bands like The White Stripes, then this record will be right up your alley. Sure, it’s mostly covers; but you ain’t never heard such ball-tearing versions of "Do You Love Me", "Roll Over Beethoven", or "Have Love Will Travel" in your life. The only occasion whereby The Sonics’ raucous aggression doesn’t quite stack up to that of the original is on "Good Golly Miss Molly". But who can really blame vocalist Roslie for falling a tad short of the original killer, Mr. Little Richard?

also boasts a couple of originals that stand up quite well to their more illustrious cover-counterparts. "Boss Hoss", in particular, underscores the infectious quality of The Sonics’ sound and Roslie’s songwriting abilities. There’s a no fuss-no muss quality to the track, which only serves to reinforce the virtues of the band’s decidedly no-frills approach to recording. They hung a few microphones from the roof, tore the soundproofing materials from the walls, and then hit record on a two-track tape recorder. The purpose of this DIY approach was, according to the band, to "get a live-er sound". Boy did they achieve that. And what’s more, they undoubtedly laid some foundations for the iconic Seattle ‘loudness’ in the process.

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