Urban Sun: Guilty of Dreaming

Urban Sun
Guilty of Dreaming
Bodin/Hornisch Records

If you go to Urban Sun's website and click on the "Bands We Like" link, you'll be taken to a promotional site related to defunct skiffle quartet the Beatles. Always wise to steal from the best. The group also borrows from R.E.M. and Oasis, and bears a coincidental resemblance to greater-Illinois power poppers the Shoes, who were recording little pop gems on a four-track in their living room back in the mid-'70s, when such behavior was still novel. The guys in Urban Sun, two pairs of 20- to-27-year-old brothers from St. Paul and its suburbs, are still finding their feet as writers, players, and singers, which is another way of saying that this reviewer has no immediate plans to return to 19 of the 20 songs on the group's home-recorded, immodestly long new album, Guilty of Dreaming. More newsworthy than the young band's shortcomings is the promise shown by the album's clear valedictorian, "Shine Like the Stars," so let's just dwell briefly on that tune.

In the Beatles tradition, three members of Urban Sun pull songwriting shifts. "Shine Like the Stars" comes from the pen of bassist Chris Hornisch, whose nasal, vaguely Liverpudlian singing puts tenderness and snottiness into effective equilibrium. As the simile in the song's title indicates, Hornisch knows to keep it simple. Another lyricist might have gone with "shine like that movie where that foreign actor with the big nose played the crazy concert pianist," but that might not have sung well. Hornisch also turns in some McCartney-inspired melodic bass runs, while the guitarists mainly keep it crisp and clean. The drummer, who struggles elsewhere on the album, lays back in admirable service to the song's unassuming beauty. This isn't one of those flawlessly crafted pop jewels you've heard about; at four and a half minutes, it could use some tightening. Hard to say, for instance, why the bridge needs a four-bar intro during which nothing much happens, nor does the solo break add much. The bridge itself seems imported from another song, but them Beatles did that, too, and it's a real nice bridge. It even seems to levitate a bit, not all the way to the stars, but in that general direction.

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