Last January, I walked into a Clintonville warehouse space that Sundown’s TK Webb and Dustin White had converted into a live-in rehearsal and recording space. They built bunks and temporary walls, moved in musical equipment (and a cat!) and spent their days and nights capturing inspiration when it struck. The new material was piling up, they said. They were gearing up to tour for a sizable chunk of 2012, they said. The plan was to go all-in with Sundown, two rock ’n’ roll lifers partnering up to make “new cosmic American music.”
A year later, White is living in Marfa, Texas, and Sundown hasn’t released even a gasp of new music. Cue the Robert Burns.
Not content to let the sun go down on Sundown, Webb cobbled together a new lineup with drummer Chris Pierce and Pierce’s Urns bandmate Mike Leach (also of Struck By Lightning) on bass. They returned to Columbus stages last fall, slimmer and sparer but still powered by Webb’s preternatural Americana songwriting talent.
Gone is the spacey sonic artifice White slathered on Sundown’s music with his massive rig of retro keyboards and effects pedals. Yet Sundown’s music still sounds huge, even “cosmic” at times. The dirt-encrusted classic rock they shovel up continues to radiate a faint neon glow.
The heart of Sundown has always been Webb’s rugged urban twang, and that heart is still beating steadily. The songs were more compact Saturday, usually spanning a couple verses and a guitar solo, always guided by Webb’s grizzled rasp. Often, they were punctuated with just the right detail, be it a fascinating riff to draw us into orbit or a melodious bass line to punch up a gauzy ballad.
I said Sundown hasn’t released any new music since debut EP Mansion Burning!, but that hardly means no new Sundown music exists. They seemed to be pulling from an entirely new batch of songs. Mansion Burning! was for sale at the merch table, but nowhere to be found on stage.
Given that those songs are two years old and the product of an entirely different backing band, it’s not surprising to hear Webb and his latest cohorts forging ahead. Let’s just get that new music on vinyl pronto, OK?