Hard to believe it was just six weeks ago that Blank Tape Records celebrated Grant Sabin's Anthromusicology album with a packed-to-the-rafters show at Stargazers. During that time, we've survived one Mayan apocalypse, abandoned countless New Year's resolutions and, earlier this week, suffered through Blue Monday, famously touted as "the most depressing day of the year."
But while the rest of us were battling various aspects of the winter doldrums, the Blank Tape crew has kept busy prepping another CD release show. This Friday at the Loft, Haunted Windchimes multi-instrumentalist Mike Clark will be fronting his own band Sugar Sounds to mark the release of their soul-influenced debut album, Round and Round.
Those who caught the Stargazers show can expect to see a lot of familiar faces, both on stage and off. Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds features Windchimes frontman Inaiah Lujan on electric guitar, the instrument he favored in his early punk-rock days. Sabin's also onboard, albeit in the role of trumpet player. So is drummer Alex Koshak — who was the other key player on the Anthromusicology album — and Marc Benning, who produced both CDs.
The Sugar Sounds album is a radical shift from Clark's already eclectic repertoire. While his first band, the Jack Trades, wore its Black Keys and White Stripes influences on its sleeve, the subsequent Ghost of Mike Clark project veered more toward folk and country influences.
And then there was the infectious "Hey Daisy," which racked up nearly 15,000 YouTube views with its 3½-minute video — shot in one take — of Clark singing and playing guitar while riding down Tejon Street on a bike without touching his handlebars once.
"'Daisy' comes from Sugar Sounds, which is my soul band that Grant Sabin is gonna play trumpet in," Clark told the Indy in a 2011 interview. "When it finally exists, it'll be Mike Clark & the Sugar Sounds — kind of like a Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings kind of thing."
Actually, "Daisy" never found its way onto Round and Round, which crams eight songs into a modest 24-minute running time. The album is a self-consciously retro affair, from its vintage soul-pop arrangements to the CD packaging (think Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits or Cornershop's Woman's Gotta Have It).
"Burn You Up" opens with that iconic beat from the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" — and an appropriately Phil Spector-like melody to match — while the closing "Honey" is steeped in Roy Orbison melancholia. The latter is also the album's most "arranged" track and, to my ears, one of the most musically successful.
Not all of Round and Round works: The Al Green-style falsetto swoops on "Smooth Sailin'," for instance, find the singer's reach extending well beyond his grasp. But Clark is a quick study, so don't be surprised if Sugar Sounds has already refined its act by Friday's show.
Also this week, local blues-rock phenom Jake Loggins has gotten back in the business of hosting jam sessions. This one will be a monthly event, beginning Thursday at Stargazers.
You can also catch Briffaut frontman Daniel James Eaton doing his first solo show in ages at Rico's on Friday. He'll be playing material from his recently completed "year of songs" marathon (366 songs in 366 days) as well as music from Briffaut's forthcoming Kickstarter-funded maud album.
Then on Saturday, Mike Stephens' Men of Deep Throat will come out of their recent hibernation for two shows in one night. "We're opening [for Antique Scream] at the Zodiac and then packing up and heading to the Triple Nickel to play last," says Stephens, whose recent handful of Van Halen tribute gigs stole some thunder from his MODT endeavors. "I think people might have forgotten I actually do original music."