Jersey City sensation, Sunshine & The Rain, have just released their second recording since the 2015 release of their limited edition 7” single, described further down below. The new record once again features the married duo of Ashley Morey (vocals, bass) and Justin Morey (guitar). Their bio has a decent amount of information concerning their style and influential guidance.
There’s a long lineage of bands who’ve taken the girl-group sound of the ‘60s to a more bombastic level. Melding those classic pop hooks of the past with a more chaotic musical setting. Think Ramones, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Go-Go’s, Velvet Underground. Now comes the husband wife duo Sunshine & The Rain, adding pummeling drum-machines distorted, intense feedback and classic pop hooks.
Big Black meets the Shangri-Las. Suicide fronted by Joan Jett. Pailhead vs. The Shirelles. Take your pick.
Both are former members of critically acclaimed psych rockers The Black Hollies. Formed around the same time as the 2014 dissolution of their previous band, S&tR kicked things off with the Jesus & Mary Chain vibes of their debut 7″, “Can’t Stop Thinking About You b/w Pale Blue Skies” in late 2015.
In early 2016 they headed into Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West studio with the legendary Jon Spencer (Pussy Galore, Blues Explosion, Boss Hog) to begin work on their debut LP. Eschewing some of the lengthier psych leanings of their earliest days, Spencer coaxed the band towards a more immediate sound, cutting down track lengths and leaving nothing but pointed pop gems with sugary hooks and a dirty Ramones grit cutting throughout.
Alongside direction from Spencer and engineering from Grammy Award-winning engineer Ted Young, Sunshine & The Rain spent the majority of 2016 fine-tuning the songs that ended up on In The Darkness Of My Night. From the instant gratification of singles like “Let’s Go” and “I’m Not Your Girl,” to aggressive earworms “Take Me Out Again” and an unexpected cover of Fugazi’s “Merchandise,” this is a statement of a debut record that never strays from its point.
The duo recently contacted me and sent me their record for review. That’s an interesting concept to me as I do a lot of chasing around bands just to get them to send me stuff to review. Why that is, I’ll never know, but so be it. The band will be part of a local show at the Wonder Bar on Sept. 9, so I wanted to check out some of their songs and give my opinion.
First up on the disc is a song called “Let’s Go.” The track is a proverbial cornucopia of pun k sounds. Fuzz bass, gritty guitars and minimal drums lay the groundwork for Ashley to lay her vocal magic across the top of the piece. Her vocals remind me of early Joan Jett or Cherie Currie from The Runaways. Fast paced and full of twists and turns, “Let’s Go” takes off and gets the record humming.
Moving to one of the records hopeful hits I came to “I’m Not Your Girl.” Production work is evident on this song as it’s been clipped down to the pure and simple punk pop goodness that this band produces. Ashley thumps the bass as Justin lays ragged and jagged guitar riffs, feedback drenched chords and pentatonic passages over the top. Melodically speaking, “I’m Not Your Girl” hits the mark. This tune brings me back to the days of The Go Go’s and The Bangles as played by the Dead Boys. Ashley’s voice is tuned and toned for punk/pop flavor. She hits all the right notes and comes up with outstanding melodic structures which give the song substance. Justin handles the guitars like a pro, and his sound is addictive. “I’m Not Your Girl” should see airplay for this group.
I liked Sunshine & The Rain’s rendition of the Fugazi song, “Merchandise.” Drums kick things off with bass and guitar charge chords before the percussion moves into a different meter and guitars begin to chug. Ashley lays down breathy vocals in short bursts as Justin tears into the heart of the song with great big chords and feedback aplenty. It’s the perfect song for this band to cover as it fits in perfectly. I’m not huge on covers, but this one makes perfect sense for this group. I love the fall apart ending where you can hear Ashley say that she, “fucked up on one part.” Raw, stark and efficiently brutal. “Merchandise” is a song that fits Sunshine & The Rain well.
“So Far, So Close” is up next. If you’re a fan of power punk pop from bands like The Ramones or the feel mentioned above of girl groups from the ‘60s, you’re going to love “So Far, So Close.” Ashley delivers believable and melodic vocal attacks as Justin brings the tremolo guitar work. Chainsaw guitars and bass accent in the background along with proficient drum work. But the real gems are the afore mentioned vocal and tremolo work. Ashely’s vocals seemed fairly compressed here as well which gives the song an interesting contrast. I would classify this as another song with great radio potential and could be one of the hits the band is looking to achieve. I also liked the back-end finger picking guitar and echo-laden vocals supplied by the duo. This is a great song in my book.
Another song I wanted to mention is “Take Me Out Again.” Quick and to the point, “Take Me Out Again” takes no prisoners as it hums along. Very aggressive and filled with gnarly sounds, the song is a complete setup for Ashely’s vocals. Her Belinda Carlisle attack is useful and quite endearing. Justin throws down some feedback drenched guitar work in the vein of early Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones.
Sunshine & The Rain are a fantastic pop-punk duo that has a lot to say. With 10 songs total, they have enough on here to warrant a listen for fans of the genre and more. In The Darkness Of My Night is an excellent record with more than a few potential hit songs for the duo and as they gain exposure and make new fans, it will only get better.
You’ll have a chance to see Sunshine & The Rain live as they take the stage at the Wonder Bar on Sept. 9 along with Boss Hog and Taiwan Housing Project. Tickets are available online as well as at the door. For more information on Sunshine &
The Rain, head over to Instagram and look them up: