Luke Sweeney bears the Bay Area’s surf/psychedelic/garage rock crest, but it’s his subtle deviations within that genre trifecta that makes him a unique and sustainable artist.
Sweeney coyly incorporates the vocals, guitar licks and lyrics of ’70s glam rock and power pop. The song “Miss Me?” from Sweeney’s 2014 release Adventure: Up could comfortably fit as a track on Big Star’s debut album, #1 Record. His vocals, often reminiscent T-Rex’s Marc Bolton, are delivered flirtatiously throughout a rotation of styles.
The music video for “Miss Me?” further conjures a throwback vibe in a scene depicting Sweeney’s band as ’70s hipsters wearing leather jackets and aviator sunglasses, hanging out in a basement in a cloud of cigarette smoke and drinking cheap beer.
They grin like Cheshire cats, clearly parodying themselves, with a cooing outcry for the refrain: “Oh little girl/ won’t you miss me for a while?”
“Spousal Arousal” reveals the gangly singer’s covert sex appeal. The organ-tinged melody and coy lyrics describe a routine meal between spouses and adds the spicy tension: “As you all know my space ain’t casual/ some spousal arousal in the middle of a dinner night as far out as I go/ and I keep the blinds closed.”
Sweeney’s lyrics are unorthodoxly poetic and delivered with the soul of sly wit. “It could be a lonely night again for us/ there’s horse sh*t whispers are everywhere/ balling up wads up conclusions/ spit out into the pollution/ stupefying our very air/ go one/ change the channel/ see if I care,” he chants in Lou Reed form.
“Open Those Savage Eyes” is one of Sweeney’s most quintessentially psychedelic tunes. A surf guitar‘s reverberations and distortion combine with persistent swish of maracas to create a hazy vibe.
Production effects make Sweeney’s voice warble, with memorable psych-learning lyrics like, “I see our world is temporary/ so don’t go and play it so safe.”
He unsafely plays Carmel and Monterey on consecutive nights, with only 30 tickets available for the latter.
Luke Sweeney 7pm Thursday, Dec. 3. Barmel, San Carlos St. between Seventh and Ocean, Carmel. 626-3400, www.facebook.com/barmelbythesea. 8pm Friday, Dec. 4. Pierce Ranch Vineyards, 499 Wave St., Monterey. $8. 372-8900, www.lukesweeney.bandcamp.com