Sundowner – We Chase The Waves – CD Review

A sundowner can be a lot of things (a car, drink, plane, type of wind), but in this case the Sundowner I am referring to is an amazing solo project by Chris McCaughan, the guitarist and vocalist of punk act The Lawrence Arms.  

We Chase The Waves is Sundowner’s second album and like the first, it is far from punk rock and more of a brush with folk music that brings forth good moods and instant sing alongs.  Recently dropping on Asian Man Records, We Chase The Waves might just be the album that gets me through the rest of the summer.

Starting as a side project, McCaughan wrote a few songs in his free time and played intimate shows around the Chicago area taking the moniker Sundowner.  With help from fellow band mates and friends the project turned into a band of sorts with Sundowner’s debut being released in the spring of 2007 on Red Scare Records.  Just three years later McCaughan and friends decided for a follow-up and recorded We Chase The Wave in their homes, literally, in just eight months.

Passionate and compelling are the two words that describe McCaughan’s wiring styles on the CD.  The guy is a natural storyteller and just has a way with words. From the moment “In The Flicker” started off the album I was beyond mesmerized.  The song was nothing more than an acoustic jam amongst friends but I was addicted, I wanted more, and before I knew it the ten track album was wrapping up.

Tracks like “As The Crow Flies” impressed the hell out of me even though the song was nothing over the ordinary.  The way the song presented itself to the listener, told the story, and ended it on a positive note not only begged for another listen but might have very well inspired a certain someone typing out this review…

“Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” took words from the 1910 poem of the same title by Franklin Pierce Adams telling the tale of the Cubs succeeding over the Giants thanks to a game winning double play (the only way I ever would have known this was by reading the CD insert and Google).  As an ode to McCaughan’s beloved Chicago Cubs he did a great job rendition of the classic poem.

“Mouth Of A Tiger” was a stern and ever so low opinionated track with lyrics like “I’m as lucky as a funeral” and “I’m not looking at the glass half full”.  I adored the singing style on the song match up with the acoustic and lap steel guitar playing.  Full of everyday truth and plain old honest opinions, the song begged to be played on repeat.

We Chase The Waves was an amazing start to finish album with no lulls in between.  McCaughan nails it dead on with his catchy melodies and fine storytelling that will grow on you regardless if you are a fan of him, The Lawrence Arms, or not.  Don’t look at Sundowner as a side project by a punk rock guy, look at it as a talented musician who has created something that more people need to know about.

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