Is there a more iconic San Francisco album than Tomorrow Is Alright by Sonny and the Sunsets?
Just look at the personnel that played on this thing — you’ve got garage rock wizard John Dwyer of the Osees (nee’ Thee Oh Sees, the ocs, etc.), Shayde Sartin and Tim Cohen of local legends The Fresh and Onlys, and Kelley Stoltz, who is basically the OG of the whole San Francisco music scene. At the helm is Sonny Smith himself, an unassuming troubadour who somehow found a way to marry the whimsical, aw-shucks nature of Americana folk with the ramshackle and direct ethos of DIY and punk rock.
Smith has been an institution for so long that it can be difficult to remember just how refreshing it was to hear Tomorrow is Alright, the Sunsets’ debut album from 2009. While many of his contemporaries — Dwyer, Cohen, Ty Segall — used lo-fi production values to blast out scuzzy garage rock, Smith used those same tactics to deliver sweet, catchy pop nuggets.
The unassuming nature of Tomorrow is Alright made it imminently listenable upon its arrival, and it’s maintained that entrancing accessibility more than a decade after its release. Whether it’s the disjointed juke joint stomp of “Chapters,” the vaguely psychedelic pop of “Bad Vibes & Evil Thoughts,” or the doo-wop strut of “Strange Love,” each song on the album feels strangely comforting, even after all these years.
It would be impossible to discuss this album without mentioning the emotional tour de force of “Too Young to Burn,” the first track of Tomorrow is Alright. A galloping work of austere acoustic guitar work and backing handclaps, “Too Young To Burn” is the quintessential entry of Smith’s catalog, an endearing exploration into the vagaries of adulthood and its attendant responsibilities. It’s basically the inverse of “My My, Hey, Hey” but equally as compelling.
Oh yeah — so why are we talking about this album now? Because Fat Possum, the venerable indie label that released Tomorrow is Alright — is reissuing the classic album on vinyl!
To celebrate that announcement, the band slapped together a new music video for “Too Young to Burn,” replete with plenty of vintage footage from San Francisco’s garage rock heyday that will make you super nostalgic.Everyone suddenly got into collecting vinyl during the pandemic, which is a great thing, except that the increased demand fucked up the supply chain and flooded small pressing plants, making everyone wait extra-long for the albums to arrive. But if there is one album that’s absolutely worth that wait, it’s Tomorrow is Alright. Pick up a copy!