Monday, June 28, 2010 Album Review

Son of the Sun was formed in early 2007 from opposite sides of the United States. At the time, Joseph Stocker lived in New York and Zak Ward lived in California, and the two friends and former band-mates experimented with their reflective, lush musical tastes over the internet, swapping files which eventually brought about their first EP in 2008. After Ward moved back to New York, the duo went on to add Jeremy Franklin, Steve Matthews, and Brandon Delmont, and the band were soon tagged as a band to watch in the upstate New York music scene. Son of the Sun have now self-released their debut full-length album, The Happy Loss, and it’s an album that’s well worth checking out.

Son of the Sun are undeniably a guitar band, with layers of textured harmonies and a rich Americana-flavoured sound. The Happy Loss is a comfortable blend of dreamy 60’s pop, garage rock, psychedelica, and alt-country. Kicking off with the stomping “The Good Ole Days”, the album easily shifts through the band’s wheelhouse of musical styles, keeping it pretty unpredictable as to what the next track will be.

Ward’s voice is an interesting listen. With touches of Josh Homme, Damon Albarn, and Eddie Vedder, his vocals are an integral part of each track, shaping and defining. The rest of the band joins in on most tracks, delivering multiple backing vocal lines reminiscent of older styles of music, and culminating in the closing classic 50’s ballad-style track, “Tell Me”.

While The Happy Loss is solid Americana at the core, there is an underlying British feel to the music. Some tracks have a certain Beatles-esque feel to them, while others have an undercurrent of Britpop flowing through them. Combined with Ward’s laidback vocals, Son of the Sun often sounds like what I imagine it’d be like if Damon Albarn led Queens of the Stone Age.

Perhaps in keeping with its name, The Happy Loss is an odd but working juxtaposition of moods. The guitar-rich music is melodic and upbeat, yet there’s a feeling of sadness that comes through. Ward’s style of vocals contributes strongly to this feeling, making the music sound like someone who’s trying to keep a brave face while going through a woeful time. However, this doesn’t create a downer for the listener, but rather sets a theme for the overall listening experience.

Lyrically, the melancholic theme continues, bringing us an album full of tales of loss and personal heartbreak. The lyrics are fairly simple, relaying narratives of mishandled relationships, desperation, and other such common themes. Just like reality, The Happy Loss shows us that life doesn’t always provide a happily-ever-after ending and one may never come to terms with that, but that’s okay as that’s part of being human.

The Happy Loss is a good listen, and the band have hit a solid winner with their debut album. With rippling melodies and well-presented variety, I agree that they are a band to watch, but not just within the upstate New York music scene; look out world, here comes Son of the Sun.

Go to review of The Happy Loss:

Review Rating: 4 / 5
Tracks to Watch For: “The Good Ole Days”; “How Can It Be?”; “Stay the Same”
Written By: Rory Purcell-Hewitt Contact Rory at

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