You have to be pre-disposed to like any album that starts out with a paean to Lawnchair Larry. Maybe it’s just a song about a couple of fella’s similarly tempted, but Weather Ballon, the opening cut on the debut album from Austin-based Sons Of Fathers, is an apt metaphor for how quickly this record soars over the landscape. Originally called Beck & Cauthen–until the duo got a cease-and-desist from the “other” Beck–the pair went back to a name that had been tossed around before and that made the emphasis more about the band. But make no mistake, no matter how good the musicianship is in the band, these guys are going to stick in your mind because of the harmonies of the two singers.
Weather Balloon starts with a few bars of acoustic guitar, then the drums and steel guitar kick in and the song quickly gains altitude. The first hint of the harmonies to come start when the boys sing about “I want to sit high up in the sky, floating on a weather balloon.” Next is Out Of Line, with a pop hook that would have made Hall & Oates proud. That’s followed by Wind Turbines, an interesting stand-in for the idea of being isolated and unsure. The harmonies on Wind Turbines remind me of Brewer & Shipley, one of my favorite one-hit-wonders from the 70′s.
Bandmates Regan Schmidt on guitars and Dees Stribling on drums provide more than just a backup rhythm section, particularly on the title track and Mother Dear. And the warmth and cohesion that co-producer Lloyd Maines brings is unequaled. But you just keep coming back to the harmonies and how Beck and Cauthen so effortlessly envelope you in the moment of the song. Not content to stick with any particular style or generation they go from a 21st century indie sound on Only For A Day to the 50′s and Jan & Dean on Ruthless.
It’s mid-November and most of the country is hunkered down for winter now. Sons of Fathers is that last handhold on an icy front porch to grasp and hang on a little longer to the optimism of summer. It’s close-your-eyes and tap-your-toes, and I suspect it’s going to end up one of my favorite albums of the year.
Listen to these tracks first: Weather Balloon, Ruthless, Adam and Eve
About the author: Support new music. Listen to a band or singer you've never heard of this week. I've been doing that for over 30 years.