Danny Newcomb is a long-standing member of the Seattle local music scene, having been playing gigs in and around the area for some years now. With his band, The Sugarmakers, Newcomb has been honing the laid back, jangly college rock that is not unlike other stalwarts of the subgenre such as The Shins, the latter-day sound of Pearl Jam with (and I don’t mean this as a cut) or even Candlebox, or Oasis, the latter in a more musical way vs. Oasis’s Beatle-esque pop. I liked the music from the get-go, that’s a fact, but it was more of a “I dig them, they’re cool. I’m sure they’d play great in a medium -to-small sized club, where things are more intimate and the sound is louder and one can even stand in the back part of the club and still get a good view of who’s up on stage. ButMasterwish is also one of those albums that can surprise you: in the way that, at least for me, when I listened to it a second time and a third time, by then I was really hooked and then I was trying to think of what it was which didn’t set me off from the first. Some albums are just that way, though: they get better with repeated exposure; thus was the case with me. One thing is for sure: Danny & The Sugarmakers is not the kind puerile, test-marketed crap that is interchangeable with all the other Top 40 garbage that gets played, at least, 10-12 times from, say, 9 am- 5 pm (if you’ve ever worked in one of those offices at some company, where some jerk in your department decides to have a radio playing all day long, but instead of playing anything remotely good, the radio, instead, is locked on to whichever franchise radio station – the kind that every market in the US has – that plays the exact same putrid crap that every other STAR-FMin the U.S. Plays, so as to, in a way, infect the masses with that poisonous vomitus.
Anyway, no, this is not that stuff. It has a distinctly better sound; one that would be welcome in any office I happened to be working and, because it isn’t so far off the grid, so outre, or dark or alienating in its use of sounds, etc. would not be “offensive”, as in, that stupid new label one sees everywhere, that is supposed to be describing something that has possible porn or violence or music which is a mixture of the two – “NSFW” – dumb, dumb, dumb. Sure, Betsy, over there, in marketing might like Justin Bieber or whatever the flavor-of-the-month in the “hip-hop/pop” hybrids that chase each other up and down the meaningless “charts” these days are, but does that really matter? No. What matters is that those who appreciate original songs, written by those who are singing it, done with talented musicians and with lyrics that are pure poetry, listen to it and like it; that they like it enough to want to kick back and listen to the album all in one setting.
But getting beyond the workplace, which really is a depressing place anyway, Danny & The Sugarmakers are a great band that really has a tight-knit sound. They’re not (purposefully or not) a garage band nor do they have that sound or aura. The focus seems to be on well-made music that focuses on writing great lyrics as well as a great musical sound.
When they were kicking around for a place that would get their album Masterwish out, Danny got hooked up with Mike McCready’s (Pearl Jam) label, Hockeytalk. And the rest, as they say, is history!
As for The Sugarmakers, the band consists of, well, Danny Newcomb, of course, who sings and plays guitar, Rick Friel on bass and Eric Eagle on drums. Having listened to Masterwish a couple times, I’ve definitely got the message that Danny is a fabulous guitar player. On various songs, from “Nightmare” to “One Wish” “Better When You Fail” or the opener, “Known World” there are some great guitar riffs that really do make Newcomb’s guitar playing shine. He isn’t overtly virtuosic or ostentatious as far as big solos or that kind of thing, but from hearing the bright points that do shine through, one can just tell that at the right moment, like, at a concert, on stage, et cetera, he could, no doubt, easily break into a wicked solo that would roil the show with a great string quality. So, besides the quite good band he has put together, Newcomb can also blow you away with his spirited guitar antics and hearing those will make you want to find out more about the things he can do with that thing and so, when the Sugarmakers come to your town, you’ll be that much more psyched up about going to the show.