It's not that uncommon to see musicians pursue side projects as a way to deal with band off-seasons or artistic and creative differences. It's even more uncommon to see musicians pursue side projects with every member of your original band, at once.
While the details are somewhat fuzzy, it seems Sunfold has been around for a pretty long time. Originally called Sedona, the six-piece outfit from North Carolina is also the six-piece outfit from North Carolina called Annuals. Wondering which came first? Don't ask; I have no idea.
Kenny Florence (guitar, vocals) leads the sister project with Annuals frontman Adam Baker (drums) taking backup duties. It's refreshing to see such artistic camaraderie in what appears to be one gigantic game of musical chairs. I wouldn't be surprised to see fellow mates Mike Robinson (bass), Zack Oden (guitar), Donzel Radford (drums), or Anna Spence (keyboard) guide the next project.
On the their MySpace page, the band reveals that "the purpose of Sunfold is to rediscover the sense of uninhibited exploration of melody and harmony that is always present in the pioneering of a genre and mold it into a sound that is reflective of past and present musical paradigms, without getting stuck in any particular formula."
You can sense the slight irony in that statement given the band's reluctance to add or subtract from itself, but as the band puts it, "Kenny has found himself surrounded by a group of close friends and talented musicians who share his insistence on constantly moving forward."
Annuals' listeners were given a taste of Sunfold on their last EP Wet Zoo. Surprisingly, none of EP's two Sunfold songs "Between The Worlds" or "Watering Pail" make it on the debut album LP.
Toy Tugboats can best be described as having an old-fashioned charm. There is a predominately blues sensibility, ranging from a very enjoyable up-tempo jazz hybrid in "Sailed Off To Sea" to a slow ballad in "Gnosis" to an even slower and more minimalist ballad in "To Wake The Eye."
While a majority of their songs are geared toward marathon slow dance and make-out sessions, Sunfold does the occasional impromptu bluegrass jam "Shapeshiftin'," the pseudo electronic blues number "Gorgée De Rubis," as well as the pop rock anthem "Oregon" (see video here) — Kenny's ode to one of his favorite states.
Toy Tugboats is the culmination of years of writing and composing over the course of several years during tour traveling and basically with any free second the musicians had. The album's consistency is remarkable. Never flashy and never overt, Sunfold gives Annuals a run for their money.