Indie for Indie’s sake
Although The Sanwitches’s are an integral part of the San Francisco rock scene—having their vocals featured on the records of Sonny Smith and Tim Cohen—the band sounds less like a trio from a sunny, breezy beachside town and more like one from the heartland of America, on a farm, where the farm has a weird forest on the edge of it. This is displayed on the cover of their third album, Our Toast, which features a lanky man in satin with his arm outstretched, offering the onlooker a cocktail. Mixed in with the green background color, it is a warped, weird version of a regular scenario, like a Goosebumps book cover and the off-kilter nature of their music.
The album starts out sunnily enough with “Sunny Side” that has a 50s style shuffling sort of beat and 60s Phil Spector girl group production style. With the constant refrain of “Stay on the sunny side of life,” it seems like a fairly normal and upbeat song. But the piano changes all that, as it both pushes forward the waltz feel of the song and steers away from it with small riffs and ditties that when listened to through headphones, only play through one ear. The vocals give the song a homemade Americana feel; they sound like they were recorded around a kitchen table.
This Americana vibe continues throughout the entire record to varying degrees, but is best shown in the vocals, where it recalls the great country singers of the past. The yodels and hiccups on “Play It Again Dick” recall Loretta Lynn. The album often descends into long meditation, like on the eight minute long odyssey, “Dear Prudence,” which is not a Beatles cover, as you may have been hoping for. The song is a meditation, but it’s not a meditation on anything in particular. They don’t seem to have anything to say.
The album feels like it is indie for indie’s sake: the long drawn out songs and the lackluster delivery and low-fi production. You’ll find yourself wishing they had more to say rather than just sounding like they have something to say.