Carmen Perry (AKA Addie Pray, whom we’ve previously interviewed and reviewed here at Ear to the Ground Music) clued me in to the new album by one of her artistic collaborations, SPORTS. Together with Benji Dossetter, Catherine Dwyer, and James Karlin, this quartet arising from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio is an exciting and eclectic throw-back to soft-edged, hard rock girl groups of the nineties. While other bands go retro and put out a vinyl album, SPORTS has gone and done a limited edition pink audio cassette (which- *spoiler alert*- is amazingly cool). SPORTS calls to mind another of my favorite recent evolutions in Ohio music and arts- spacebeach- and both of these bands/groups of friends/endeavors are well worth the time to check them out.
Tiny Planets starts off the album with a hard nose and high energy, and that difficult and mixed up ball of emotions that is most serious relationships. Following up, Nowhere To Be almost has a Beach Boys sound at points, although most of the time is more angst-ridden and sounds like young love feels. When Morning Comes has less complexity in the music, but the lyrics are more story telling than other songs on the album. Those two things balance out to be a solid piece, and the most filled-out selection of the eight. With more changes in instrumentation and a more dynamic feel, Clean Jeans is angry and grunge-like, and quite appealing to those of us who remember this musical style from its earlier incarnations. Where Are You is possibly my favorite song, with a blend of complex and technically skilled guitar parts and clearer vocals, added to a slightly longer format (nearly three minutes). Coming on the tails of Where You Are is You’re So Sorry, which has multiple voices coming together to act as a single instrument for key parts, and a repetition and meter in the chorus that works well. I Liked You Best is simple, clean, well-written, and perfectly produced- not tortured in post-production and not too rough sounding. Sunchokes finishes up the album in a more calm, low-key tone than most of the album and is pleasantly pop-sounding to lift your mood. It gets your toes tapping and shoulders bopping, and on a warm summer day revolving around cook-outs and good feelings this is exactly what you need.
All of the songs are short and sweet, many coming in at under two minutes. This staccato album style lends a respite to long days, and serves as a great break in between serious work. At this length and feel, this album is a great lunch break song that satiates you and leaves you ready to move on to the next to-do-list item.
Personnel: Carmen Perry, Benji Dossetter, Catherine Dwyer, and James Karlin
Tracks:Tiny Planets, Nowhere to Be, When Morning Comes, Clean Jeans, Where Are You, You’re So Sorry, I Liked You Best, Sunchokes