by Jeff Milo
New albums, next albums, those usually mean he has to flip-past the record reviewers preoccupied with his perceived penchant for the old "60's" / "garage-rock" sound.
“It’s not like I consciously put-on my 60’s outfit to go sound 60’s today,” the singer/songwriter says, reading reviews of the Detroit group’s latest LP: Left Over Right.
“That sound is who I am, it’s where I feel most comfortable, it’s where I’ll always be and if critics don’t get that by now, then it’s not like I’m asking them to follow my life
or my career.”
“Career” barely leaves his lips before he parenthetically blurts, “I hate that word.”
If anything, the sound of The Sights, the sum of Baranek’s 13-year “career” as the one true constant of a garage-rock institution, however much “60’s-sounding” or “garage-sounding” it’s been on the surface, is really just revealing Baranek as this “passionate dork, reflecting on his own record collection.”
To Baranek, the one constant in the Sights' soulful, psyche-tinged, blues-busted rock institution, the often-repetitive-narrow-viewed reviews can be funny, particularly the ones that wonder-aloud: "...wait, shouldn't this band be big by now?" ...after 13+ years...and if not, "shouldn't they have broken up by now...?"
(You can see a snarky acknowledgement to this at the end of this video of the band performing in June at the Park Bar (filmed by Front Row Detroit)
"I love that," Baranek chuckles, "I love that! I like the longevity."
In fact, Baranek admits he was getting sick of being "Joe-Blues-Guitar-guy..." and hence stepped back a bit from the flourished guitar firestorms and allowed the elegant honk-n-wheeze of a saxophone to step to the forefront of the Sights' sound, showcased primarily on many of Left Over Rights' tracks.
"It just felt like it made more sense to do more key-heavy and horn-heavy music," Baranek said of Left's embrace of the organ, trombone and sax. "Because, ya know, influentially, there's always been that love of Stax-records in there."
He told his sax player, Dean Tartaglia: "I want you to be equal parts late-60's/early-70's Bobby-Keys-'Stones-sax, then I want you to do weirdo Sun-Ra-shit, then I want honky-Little-Richard-stuff. Sort of: that's a bigger picture of the Sights anyway, more 50's, 60's, 70's sounds going ape-shit and not being stuck to what a horn should sound like..."
"Does that make sense?..." He pauses, but after three seconds without a response, he nods, "I think it does."
And "everybody's in sync," Baranek said of his band, his "gang," as he puts it, which includes, along with Tartaglia: Jarrod Champion - piano/left-handed bass, Skip Denomme - drums, Kyle Schanta - bass). You can read-up on all of their exploits, altogether endearing, surreal, exciting or dull...via Eddie's MT-featured Tour Diary, scribbled enthusiastically from the inside vans and hotel rooms, on late, echoing nights spanning their epic tour with Tenacious D.
"I think I've just been feeling better," said Baranek, "as a human. That probably comes across in the lyrics, here. That I'm more comfortable in my own skin. I think I've righted some wrongs...hopefully."
"And it definitely feels like my best one, but, yeah I know everybody says that when they're newest one is out. Still, it definitely feels like 10 songs that just go well together; it feels like a record, it's my shortest record, but it feels justified though. It's okay that it's that short because that's where/how the songs end for themselves. And, plus, the horns bring it into a new direction. I've let go of a lot of my narrowness...and I've really opened up new ways or just other ways...and that's probably part of growing and maturing."
What's left to do, then, but set your sights on the next record?