Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flashlights Shine On Bummer Summer

If you have never heard of the Flashlights, you're not alone. The startup band that is trying to break out of Brevard County, Florida (somewhere south of Daytona Beach), still sports a tight touring radius. They still travel light in a tightly packed van. They still crash on open couches after the show.

Part of the reason is that it took some time for them to find the right hook. Singer-guitarist Terry Caudill originally started the band as a solo acoustic act in 2007 before tapping the local punk scene for talent. The lineup eventually included Tony Oriza (guitar), Will Powell (bass), and Melissa Hopkins (drums).

That was good enough to put together a decent, somewhat forgettable album in 2011, but the band still needed another push. Last year, they found it. Scott Hutchison and Andy Monaghan of Frightened Rabbit stepped in to help them produce a solid sophomore album, light years ahead of their debut.

Bummer Summer is breakout album about life and stuff.

If the first eight years gave Caudill and company anything, it was enough living to write something relevant. The experiences they've accumulated over the years are just what you might expect — dead end jobs, lousy living conditions, hangovers, and heartbreaks. And nowadays, Caudill has the heart to share it.

The first track to be released off the album, Don't Take Me Seriously, was released as a campy parody of a Japanese variety show loaded with Pokemon-like costumes and cat references. The opening host is a little bit grating on the front end but the band more than makes up for it after the first 40 seconds.

Close your eyes when you give it a second listen. It takes on a new tone and texture without the visuals.  Caudill has a knack for delivering guitar-pop and punk with a certain joyful sadness as he confesses that "of the time, I feel like I'm no one."

Along with Don't Take Me Seriously, give the opener Failure a good listen. The composition may be familiar, but the lyrics shine through with Caudill calling for a girl to come back into his life because she was the only thing that stood out in it. It perfectly hits that celebratory sadness mastered here.

If you're getting a sense that there is ample self-loathing and navel gazing on this album, you would be right. Yet, Caudill and company really ratchet it up with an authentic sense of desperation. It's as if the band knows that they are running out of chances to make this work.

It there is any truth to the speculation, they needn't worry much. Bummer Summer works. Some of the best standout tracks that deserve a listen include the tentative touch-and-go relationship tackled in Best Friends, the painfully slow and restrained lament of Islands, and the title track Bummer Summer, best summed up as a song about how we change. The acoustic, April 24th, is also worth a listen.

Bummer Summer By The Flashlights Light Up 7.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While the stories are clearly different as Caudill takes on seasons of change and difficulties, there is a common theme that he carries throughout the album. When relationships carry too much weight in your life, they hurt twice as much when they go bad and you feel twice as lost when you lose them.

The Flashlights are currently booking singular gigs and festival appearances. If you have a chance to see them live, don't hesitate. Caudill croaks a little more without the help of studio staff, but the band has a great presence as whole. Expect great things from them ahead. Bummer Summer rocks.

You can find Bummer Summer by the Flashlights on Amazon. You can also download the 10-track album from iTunes or order a Bummer Summer CD direct from Barnes & Noble. Find more news on Facebook.
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