It's basically a compliment to the genre that Dan Sonenberg plays in a rock band. With as much as the USM composer-in-residence has going on writing operas and pieces for the Da Capo Chamber Players and things like an "odd little mini electric guitar concerto for chamber orchestra, choir, and guitar," it's cool that he focuses his attention on a songform so mundane.
I know, I know. Fuck anyone who doesn't think rock music is as valid an artform as your standard symphony. I'm right there with ya. But there's something intriguing about a guy who operates in much longer and more exacting works forming a band like Lovers of Fiction and pumping out a tune like the 2:21, radio-punk "Everyone at Target Drives a Honda," with a hair-metal guitar solo and an R.E.M.-catchy chorus.
Okay, so Jimmy Dority also throws in some Monk on that solo, and the arrangements tend to tug the band's works toward prog and art-rock, but the band are rock at their core, and romp in the Lennon mold of pop. It's ironic and frenzied in Zappa fashion in the title track of The Bear, their first EP release, featuring a supporting guest vocal from Arcane Lore's Katie Gilchrest, while much more contemporary rock (Elbow/Hold Steady) in "Burn the Town," which pushes past four minutes.
Max Dennis' solo in the song's open is full of bell bottoms and fringed jackets, escorting us into the first verse, where piano enters and Sonenberg introduces a reedy delivery like late Dylan. The chorus picks your head up, and Sonenberg shows good range in going into a Bowie growl when "it all comes crashing down." The bridge is a resplendent collection of "lad-dee-dah" vocals and handclaps, jamming into the finish.
That's a song you can listen to a few times, for sure. The best thing about all of this is that it doesn't seem a put-on. You can tell Sonenberg's been in plenty of bands before and this is part of who he is as a musician and composer. Similar to guys like Sean Morin, Bob Lord, or Dave Noyes, locally, Sonenberg is a broad musical mind who appreciates the rock form — along with a hell of a lot of other things. I'm looking forward to seeing how Lovers of Fiction's band identity develops. ^
THE BEAR | Released by Lovers of Fiction | available online and at Bull Moose | June 18 | facebook.com/loversoffiction