Essential New Music: Sunwatchers’ “Illegal Moves”

Before you accuse Sunwatchers of pulling any illegal moves, take a look at the Scott Lenhardt illustration that wraps around the cover of their third album. A Braveheart-coifed Kool-Aid monster faces Emma Goldman, poised with pitchfork in hand while various right-wing doofuses mill around in various states of alarm or oblivion. Battle has already been joined, and no one gets very far arguing about fairness in the midst of combat. But should you need a soundtrack to power you through the field of fire, Illegal Moves is at your service.

The New York quartet, whose members have backed Eugene Chadbourne, Chris Forsyth and the late Arthur Doyle, roar into the fray blaring a jazz-rock hybrid that never forgets to rock. Jeff Tobias has the righteousness to play an Alice Coltrane tune with honor, but Jim McHugh blasts his guitar and phin (a Vietnamese stringed instrument) through pedal-amp combo that betrays his membership in the Ron Asheton fan club. The rhythm section of Jason Robira and Peter Kerlin burns enough rubber to get the job done in a biker flick. And come to think of it, wouldn’t it be cool to hear Davie Allan and Ms. Coltrane soundtrack the righting of all wrongs?

—Bill Meyer