Midnight Wine


Before we commence this review, journey with us waaay back to the early/mid-'90s, a time when OC was shockingly not the VH1-sanctioned “American Hip Factory” it is today. Look at this place! We do most of our club-hopping around Fullerton, catching shows by expatriate Diamond Bar band Moonwash Symphony, the bassist of whom we video-store-clerked with. That's how we first got to know the band's front man, Shon Sullivan, a genuine musical wizard—if it had strings, Sullivan could play it like a virtuoso. “That boy's gonna be a big star someday!” we used to tell ourselves, and we've kept our eye on him ever since. Fastforward to a time not long ago when we heard that Sullivan was in Australia touring in Elliot Smith's band. Then we heard he was in Europe playing in Neil Finn's band. Then we saw Sullivan a few weeks ago at the Coach House, jamming with Finn and Lisa Germano and Eddie Vedder. Could superfabulous celebritydom status be far behind?

Well, he is still playing his own tunes. Not content to be a mere sideman, Sullivan has rechristened himself (and his band) Goldenboy, a nickname Smith bestowed upon him (and not to be confused with the Norwegian pop-punk band or the Swiss techno/design artist of the same moniker), and on the mellow-rific Blue Swan Orchestra, Sullivan shows off his knack for memorable melodies and dreamy soundscapes. There's nothing here as electrified and fuzzy as old Moonwash, but it's still a fine disc, brimming with lush, warm acoustic touches, frilly piano parts (Sullivan's key-stroking on “Babydoll” reminds us of the tinkling on the Boomtown Rats' “I Don't Like Mondays”) and mesmerizing, Grandaddy-like interludes of quiet. Seasons and weather—”Summertime” (cameo vocal by good bud Smith), “Blue Swans of Winter,” “Twenty Months in a Hail Storm,” “Sunlight Through the Fog”—are a popular lyrical agenda, while “Sing Another Song for the Winterlong” is probably the poppiest, bounciest gem on here. Ultimately, Blue Swan Orchestra is shiny and satisfying, like a stylishly sipped glass of midnight wine. And we aren't being kind just because we knew Sullivan when he had hair down to his ass, either.

Info: www.goldenboy.ws; www.b-girlrecords.com

—Rich Kane Goldenboy performs with the Church and Darvoset at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-8930. Fri., 8 p.m. $23.50.

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