A psyched-out semi-dubstep beach party that I would like to attend, "Heavy Deeds" has been one of my favorite albums this year but then again, I expect little else at this point from Sun Araw aka Mr. Stallones (Cameron, of course. Sylvester never had the guts to become plural). The boat trip has ended and Sun Araw has dropped the anchor but certainly not the ball—"Heavy Deeds" is heavy indeed.
The album begins with a very simple, very deep bass line that wastes no time with introductions. This bonfire is already in full swing. The drums kick in but stay sparse, hitting only on the necessary beats. There's an organ playing somewhere in the jungle, and guitarists with echoing wah pedals have you surrounded. There is still something of an orientation feeling to it, with Stallones repeatedly chanting, "It's alright! There's no one! It's alright!" Along with the occasional "Yeah." Oddly enough, these have been some of the most reassuring lyrics I've heard in quite sometime, odder still that they're on a Sun Araw album. They work perfectly in the song, giving the impression of a central presence that's guiding the whole thing.
"Hustle and Bustle" follows up "Heavy Deeds" and, in terms of background, it's remarkably…Radiohead? Believe it. Certainly not a rip-off, but some of the guitar work is straight out of "OK Computer." The song sounds like the dissipation of the preceding track, very wide open, the kind of thing that just makes you want to lie down and arch your back. Maybe that's just me. The album quickly regains its poise with "The Message," an acoustic guitar strums nomadic over the ever-present organ. Instead of being filled with orders, it seems filled with questions, or maybe just suggestions.
However, that all changes with "Get Low." The first half of the song gives you some space to meditate, but that's only because you'll need it for the ass-shaking dubfunk this song shifts into. When he says to get low, what he means is to get the fuck down. It's your last chance to really dance before shifting back into the closer, "All Night Long." This is a song a sun could rise to, a worship to the night before. The inhabitants of this album don't sleep—they collapse. This song is the last few meteorites still visible before the dawn and each one hits home.
All in all, the confidence that's present on each song might be the best thing about this album. I've always enjoyed the focus of Sun Araw discs, the way they stick to an idea, and "Heavy Deeds" is no exception. The feeling of having arrived somewhere very specific permeates every song. I wouldn't call the sounds tribal, only the atmosphere. It feels like a culture that's been around for ages, one that the listener is just discovering. The rhythms, the sounds, everything on the album feels so established, which is what makes each track so strong. Stallones' songs aren't explorations but rather presentations of long-known knowledge that the mainland has overlooked. If only they taught this stuff in schools. 9/10 -- Chad Parsons (9 September, 2009)