In 1975, at the acme of his solo career, Lou Reed released the highly abhorred and largely unsold Metal Machine Music, comprised of a series of atonal guitars stacked against amplifiers to create a seemingly endless loop of noise. In the decades since its release, critics and fans of noise rock have speculated about its possible overlooked merit, or if it was, cynically, Lou Reed giving the proverbial middle finger to his record label. On hearing Across The Sunshine State, a stale, stitched-together EP from the now defunct Sunday Driver, the cynical optimist would like to believe that this is another Metal Machine Music. But, the facts remain that Across The Sunshine State is just a case of a broken-up band trying to cash in on old demos they had laying around.
The sad truth is that, apparently, at one point in Sunday Driver’s early career, they set out to be the most stereotypical pop-punk/emo outfit on the planet, endeavoring to bring us nothing we haven’t heard before. Bleating out the usual lyrical motifs of running away from home, the lesser savage torpor of growing up in suburbia, and to “never dream of you again.” For those looking for some redeemable riffs (or at least some semblance of a punk bass line), your search is in vain. In the grand tradition of the Ramones, they seem to just hammer away at their respective instruments. And to those who would try to give them a little bit of credit for the year of the recording, Sunday Driver was still a Johnny-come-lately to the well established emo scene, when this came out in late 1999.
While one can understand a label’s desire to cash in on their back catalogue that’s not generating any revenue, sometimes you just have to take a loss. Unless you like to load your playlists with an endless stream of indistinguishable pop-punk and emo songs, then avoid Across The Sunshine State at all costs. Then again, if you’ve never put a CD in a microwave before, Across The Sunshine State is at least perfect for that.