High Sunn - Missed Connections

by Mark Moody Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-04
High Sunn - Missed Connections
High Sunn - Missed Connections

Apparently no one has advised High Sunn’s alter ego, eighteen year old Justin Cheromiah, that it’s now illegal to produce guitar based rock songs in 23 states and the District of Columbia.  Not to mention the songs on his indie label debut, Missed Connections, also come with thirty second guitar dominated lead ins.  This guy is way over the line on current popular music etiquette and hallelujah for that!  Self publishing over thirty EPs, LPs, and singles on Bandcamp since he was fourteen he’s almost as prolific as Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline and with the chops to back it up.  The album’s throwback cover art, with its Stranger Things-looking blob and the run on title recalling for those of us that remember the dreaded “syntax error”, points to the retro stylings of the music as well.  And as a final nod to nostalgia, most of the tracks on Missed Connections deal with R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P-S if anyone remembers what those were.

Previously a one-man studio band, Cheromiah is joined by a merry band of buddies handling a variety of duties like on last year’s Hopeless Romantic EP.  But it’s primarily his own spirit and songwriting ability that shine through here.  Things kick off with the echoey brightness of ‘Summer Solstice’ which deals with the thorny issue of losing his girlfriend to the horror of high school graduation followed by moving away for college.  But it’s this essence of “I wrote a song for you” honesty that gives Missed Connections its charm.  On one of the later highlights, ‘Dedication’, Cheromiah openly declares “I made a song for you to dance along” to a girl he just couldn’t bear to approach.  Undoubtedly when the first caveman banged a stick on a rock and discovered rhyme these were the same sentiments directed towards some unsuspecting, but mesmerized, cavelady.

If there’s a touchpoint band here, mid-period Dinosaur Jr.’s signature guitar pacing certainly comes to mind on the loping ‘Soft Spoken’ and immediately following ‘Kokuhaku’.  But there is plenty of variety of tempos over the brisk album to nail down to one key influencer.  It’s probably also worth noting that Cheromiah does have a Japanophile obsessiveness going  back to his earlier works.  Aside from the concept of kokuhaku - more on that later - he has written plenty a song in tribute to anime and manga works and characters.  Although it’s hard to pick out any reference to banh mi in the song sharing a title with those delicious Vietnamese sandwiches.  Maybe Cheromiah was scarfing one down when the girl in the song passed him by.

On an album with no misses over ten tracks, there are still a couple of standouts.  The noisy crunch of ‘I Thought You Were There’ is an early peak.  While the tightly wound closer, ‘Hoho Market’, has some of Cheromiah’s rawest vocals putting in song again what he can’t bear to say out loud - “I want to say, you looked pretty that day”.  But further on the Japanese practice of “kokuhaku” which essentially turns the Western concept of dating on its ear.  Whereas most of us may date for months or years (or forever) before uttering the life altering words “I love you” to our partner, in Japanese culture that’s a precursor to dating.  So after getting to know someone a bit you let them know you love them before starting a serious relationship.  That must be a painful concept to Cheromiah whose songs are littered with the missed connections of the album’s title.  In that case, I’ll have to break the ice here.  I love you man, keep doing your thing!

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