Sad Songs... Better Days

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New Orleans' Suplecs had the misfortune of watching their sophomore album, 2002's somewhat prophetically titled Sad Songs...Better Days, become one of the final casualties of the financial collapse of the much-loved Man's Ruin label. Later thankfully reissued by This Dark Reign Records, the album offers textbook stoner rock in the energetic, Fu Manchu vein, where as much emphasis is placed on grooves as the riffs that drive them. Mega-riffed opener "White Devil" is arguably the utmost example, and, along with ensuing highlights like "Rock Bottom" (no relation to the Kiss classic), "Lightning Lady," and "Out of Town," it's one of those great tunes that nevertheless does absolutely nothing to expand the genre's boundaries. In fact, even when Suplecs deviates from stoner rock's unwritten "standards & procedures" handbook, the results are predictably typical: "Control" is the requisite, one-minute punk outburst, "Blue Runner" is the initially mellow, wah wah-driven number that occasionally explodes into power-chord brilliance, and closer "Unexpected Trauma" jams away on soft/hard dynamics through to its conclusion. If there's one true surprise to be had here, it's the amusing insertion of the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" -- appropriately doomed down, naturally -- into the ten-minute epic "Unstable." And yet, in the end, it's Suplecs' passion and belief in this overused but still wonderful formula that ultimately wins the day for Sad Songs...Better Days -- an album that stoners everywhere will find worthy and very enjoyable from start to finish.

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