Sonny Smith: 100 Records Vol. 2 I Miss the Jams
I sometimes have to step back and determine if there are times when I respect an album, or concept, more than I actually like the music contained on the album. One such case is the new album 100 Records Vol.2 from Sonny Smith, of Sonny and the Sunsets fame. The project found Smith not only writing 100 different songs, but creating artwork and fictional band names for all 100 of the separate 7’s. For those lucky enough to visit the exhibit in San Francisco, you could look at the artwork and back stories and listen to the first 10 songs from the project. Unfortunately for those of us in flyover country, we could only gaze at the project from a distance, but that has changed with the release of 100 Records Vol. 2 on the Turn Up Records label.
The collection, the second 10 that have been fleshed out by Smith and friends, features 10 separate “bands” playing this group of songs from the overall collection. From the poppy garage rock of “I Miss the Jams” to the spoken word ballad of “Broke Artist at the Turn of the Century,” Smith tangles together as many genres as he can over the course of the record, which can be bought as a set of 5 A/B seven inches. Although it is a Herculean task that deserves respect in its own right, to answer my question above, this is a project that stands on its own two feet. Songs bounce from the bilingual garage fuzz of “Teenage Thugs” to the male/female 50’s pop-doo wop of “I Wanna Do It” without ever feeling light weight. While there is a pastiche to the project, it never takes precedent over the actual songs, which are excellent.
My fear with this project is that it will, like Sufjan Stevens monumental 50 states project (which may or may not have ever actually been a goal), fall to the wayside. A project of this scope, undertaken by an artist as talented as Sonny Smith, is something that helps to redeem my faith in “art,” as it were. The good thing is that, even if Vol. 2 is the only wildly distributed portion of the project, it is a document that is easy to both respect and enjoy.