Joel Cusumano not only is one of the more interesting and eccentric playlist curators, he also played (or plays) in DSTVV, Cocktails, RAZZ and Talkies. One of his more recent projects is Sob Stories, who released their debut LP Fair Shakes this week – the follow up to their 2017 self-titled EP.
I don’t want to tell you what to do, but if you are looking for a kickass powerpop record, look no further. With Fair Shakes, Cusumano is at the top of his game. There is not a weak song on the record, and while you are likely to fall for it from the get go, most of the songs take multiple plays to fully appreciate. Sob Stories offer a modern take on ’70s powerpop, with plenty of layers, diversity and Big Staresque guitar work.
Sob Stories sound tight as hell on the record. No surprise given the veteran experience provided by Owen Adair Kelley (Sleepy Sun, Talkies), Phillip Lantz (Cocktails, Neutrals, Razz, Sydney Ducks, Talkies) and Rob Good (Warm Soda, Jesus Sons, BT’s). I’m namedropping a lot of the musicians’ other project on purpose, because there is a fair chance that if you like any or some of them, you will completely fall for Sob Stories.
Fair Shakes works particularly well in the album format, played front to back. It is kind of ironic that someone who is so great at curating playlists wrote something that doesn’t fit that mold at all. There either are no obvious hits on the record, or as I would argue, all of the songs are hits. Anyhow, I like ’em all and finding it difficult to pick out individual tracks. Just press play on the first track, grab a coffee. Play all 12 songs. Repeat.
Fair Shakes is out now on Oakland’s bedroom label Dandy Boy Records.