Sweet Sounds Of The Sugar Stems
Bands everywhere are partying like it’s 1963 in 2010, digging out old girl-group harmonies and Brill Building melodies and sprucing them up with crunchy guitars. Sugar Stems aren’t exactly revolutionaries in this regard, but the Milwaukee band’s debut, Sweet Sounds Of The Sugar Stems, is still a sparkling example of how this template can spin infectious power-pop gems that marry the sexy purr of Ronnie Spector with the giddy energy of The Go-Gos.
Sweet Sounds is built around the interplay of ex-Flips singer-guitarist Betsy Borst and Drew Fredrichsen, who retains the gum-chomping, sleeve-rolling cool he mastered as guitarist for Sheboygan’s Jetty Boys. Every song is packed with big open chords and even bigger vocal harmonies supplied Borst and Fredrichsen, particularly on the soaring “I Don’t Wanna Be Around You” and the riff-heavy “Next To You.” Fredrichsen’s rockabilly past with The Leg Hounds sneaks in for the album-opener “Goin’ Down,” as well as the walking shuffle of “You’re So Fine,” and melancholy closer “Make You Love Me.” Sugar Stems may not be smashing any boundaries, but Sweet Sounds is smashingly good at mining pleasures within its own sugary parameters.