[CD Review] Still Flyin', 'Never Gonna Touch the Ground' (Ernest Jennings)

The world needs more party bands like Still Flyin’, the Bay Area-based but impressively globe-trotting supergroup helmed by Masters of the Hemisphere’s Sean Rawls. Fans will find a fair bit of that band’s breathy guitar-pop in Still Flyin’, but here, it’s only part of the big picture. Every song is flooded with a mighty horn section, cheerleader-like backup singers, and, most important, heaps of guitar licks and rhythms lifted straight from dub, reggae and funk.

With typically at least a dozen members, including a manic dancer, the troupe’s excitable live show is still the best way to experience them—Okkervil River front man Will Sheff has called Still Flyin’ his favorite band. Their debut album is still delirious fun. Following a pair of excellent EPs on the undersung label Antenna Farm, Never Gonna Touch the Ground cleans up the extreme bustle of the EPs, streamlining songs into sly, danceable nuggets. Friendship and fun remain the prevailing themes, and Rawls positions such anthems as “Forever Dudes” and “Haunted Houses” firmly along those feel-good lines.

Earlier work found Rawls riffing on misheard lyrics to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird,” and this album’s super-fun “The Hottchord is Struck” cites both “Electric Avenue” and “Funkytown.” The closing “Aerosmith, Take Me . . .” is a teenage valentine to bloated, bandanna-draped ’80s rock. With the exception of that song and the single “Good Thing It’s a Ghost Town Around Here,” these tunes wisely average about three minutes, which makes it hard to get tired of them.

When the band are deep in the rapture of one of Rawls’ self-described “hamm jamms,” it’s no mystery why so many indie rockers from San Francisco and beyond jump aboard this party train every chance they get.

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