As the title suggests, Sun Blood Stories conjures music that brings a physical presence with it. The melodies are commanding and follow you wherever you go. Saying that this album bodes well for a headphone listen is redundant. This Boise, Idaho four-piece are here to play what the music wants. They themselves are but a vehicle to perform it. At times chaotic, sometimes sweet, and always heady, “It Runs Around the Room With Us” is one of the most remarkable psych albums of the year.
This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.
This brooding, mournful follow-up to the tumultuous Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015) confirms Sun Blood Stories’ status as the most exciting young rock group in Boise. It may take a couple of listens to get used to the album’s droning interludes and jarringly goofy bonus track, but the wailed vocals, malleable beats and hypnotic riffs kick in instantly.
Tis the season for year-end best-of lists, and The Record Exchange is pleased to bring you our 2017 Staff Picks!
Here’s John O.’s Top 10, followed by an abridged version of his blog post on the year in music as heard through his ears.
One More for the Road
Big Fish Theory
SUN BLOOD STORIES
It Runs Around the Room with Us
Freedom Is Free
ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER
The French Press
JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD
Sorry Is Gone
Sun Blood Stories continue to amaze me. Ben and Amber’s singing and playing are reaching new heights.
Radio Boise’s monthly episode of The Couch Surfer Series, held right here in the Radio Boise studios the second Sunday of every month, features Poet Diane Raptosh and band Sun Blood Stories, with moderator R.E. Zickau.
Sun Blood Stories makes its latest appearance in Denver tonight, 9/15/17, at Lion’s Lair with Big Dopes and Serpentfoot. The former quintet now trio from Boise, Idaho, has been creating its experimental psychedelic music since 2011. Though the band emerged around the time when the most recent wave of psychedelic rock was headed toward its peak, Sun Blood Stories seemed to come from a different place. Its shows feel a bit like you’re seeing what a traveling, shamanistic musical ceremony might be like. Its songs, some rock, some weirdo folk but all informed by an attempt to create a mood and an experience as much as, or more so, than melody.
The 2017 album It Runs Around the Room With Us has a title that suggests the supernatural and the songs themselves are often melancholic compositions haunted by memories, dreams and experiments in crafting atmospheres that stir the imagination and don’t seen leave the mind. We recently caught up with the band via email to discuss some of its history, inspirations and perspectives in creating its riveting body of work. Where a specific band member responds the name will precede that response otherwise assume it’s a collective answer. But you can figure that out because you’re smart.
Read the Full Interview
Sun Blood Stories started as Ben Kirby’s solo project, but it’s just as much Amber Pollard’s band now. Her eerie, fearsome wail and hallucinatory guitar dominate It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017), providing the perfect foil for Kirby’s laconic drawl and rippling, yowling slide riffs. Drummer Jon Fust holds the groove no matter how jarring the tempo changes get and, together, this dark psychedelic trio makes some of the most challenging, exciting rock music in the Northwest.
Some—just some—of the best recent recordings to come out of Boise
Sun Blood Stories’ second album, Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015), was the best local release of 2015. Its follow-up doesn’t try to match its wild abandon, which is probably a smart move. Instead, It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017) shows the psych-rock band refining Twilight‘s bluesy riffs, fluid grooves and layers of mind-warping noises to create a more somber, introspective experience. It’s not as immediately accessible, but it’s just as powerful and even more beautiful.
1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted
Their latest album, It Runs Around The Room With Us, is an onslaught of ambient-psychedelia with Jon Fust on drums, holding it all together. The improvisational element of the band’s music gives multi-instrumentalists Pollard and Kirby, the freedom to showcase their slide-guitar work. And the new dynamic of the band has affected the way they perform live, as well as their approach to the recording process.
“We recorded similar to the last one; in the basement,” says Pollard. “It’s a little different now because we are a three piece and we live together and record at home. There’s something really special about staying up until four in the morning and going to work at seven. And making sure we have enough whiskey to make it through the day.”