Sun June
Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:

Sun June

with special guest allie
Doors: 7:00 pm | Show: 8:00 pm
All Ages
Space Ballroom
Hamden, CT

General Admission Standing Room Only

SUN JUNE

The first two minutes of Sun June’s third album, Bad Dream Jaguar, is a reverie - Laura Colwell’s voice floats above a slow-burn, sparse synth, conjuring a tipsy loneliness, a hazy recollection, a disco ball spinning at the end of the night for an empty dance floor. Sun June’s music often feels like a shared memory – the details so close to the edge of a song that you can touch them. And as an Austin-based project, their music has also always felt strangely and specifically Texan – unhurried, long drives across an impossible expanse of openness, refractions shimmering off the pavement in the heat.

But on Bad Dream Jaguar, Sun June is unmoored. The backdrop of Texas is replaced by longing, by distance, by transience, and a quiet fear. The only sense of certainty comes from the murky past. It’s a dispatch from aging, when you’re in the strange in-between of yourself: there’s a clear image of the person you once were and the places you inhabited, generational curses and our families, but the future feels vast, unclear – and the present can’t help but slip through your fingers.

There’s a constant push-and-pull in Sun June’s songwriting. Vocalist and band leader Colwell and guitarist Stephen Salisbury have shared songwriting duties since the band’s inception, but Bad Dream Jaguar is the first time they collaborated from afar. Salisbury left Texas for North Carolina in 2020, shifting the way the band recorded, and beginning a long-distance relationship between him and Colwell. It gave more room to Sun June’s other members – lead guitarist Michael Bain (whose lithe guitar parts Colwell credits as imparting that “dust ol’ Texas sound”), bassist Justin Harris, and drummer Sarah Schultz – to explore other projects. And for Colwell, it made it easier to explore songwriting as an individual, living and writing songs alone.

It also meant there was a newfound privacy to these songs, as Colwell and Salisbury wrote songs for and about one another some 1300 miles apart. The distance strained their relationship, and they poured those struggles into songs. When Salisbury sent the first iteration of “Washington Square” to Colwell, it felt like a gut punch – a, “Damn, he’s really going through it” moment. It felt heavier to be collaborating and songwriting in this way, not inhabiting the same room but instead the same lonely sadness. But it also allowed for a new type of intimacy. And it was a comfort in some ways, to be allowed into someone else’s psyche and pain. To be truly seen, even from afar.

Colwell left Texas in 2022 for North Carolina. The record was recorded in spurts, the first Sun June LP that wasn’t just born out of five musicians in a room. It took five or six sessions across a number of studios, with the bulk of it coming together at producer Duszynski’s Dandy Sounds. They also invited in more collaborators to flesh out their cinematic, spacious sound. Here, the existing line-up of Colwell, Salisbury, Bain, Harris, and Schultz, alongside guitars/vocals from new touring member Santiago Dietche, is built out with woodwinds from Alexis Marsh, Justin Morris’ pedal steel, and Duszynski’s guitars and synths. It required trust in new collaborators, and in each other, in a new process.

There’s a mix of hi-fi and lo-fi; some songs, like “Texas,” which the band had to learn at a breakneck pace ahead of their recording session, was recorded on a first take, live in the room, while “Eager” and “Easy Violence” feature early vocal takes from Colwell, the final songs built atop the demos. “Moon Ahead” began as a rambling minutes-long a capella voice note Colwell texted Salisbury, a mish-mash of ideas as she revisited the younger versions of herself, what she had thought adulthood would be. “I was so young,” Colwell sings, a callback to the band’s initial single, “Young,” from their 2018 debut, Years.

“Easy Violence” details staying up all night, being a menace to society, falling into bad patterns, but is followed by “John Prine,” a drumless, piano-based ballad, a mash of pedal steel manipulated to sound closer to synths, a sleepy melancholy. “Ambitions,” with its twinkling synths, feels as much a reassurance to someone else as it is for yourself, while “Mixed Bag” is their answer to a Tom Petty song - and also feels like the record in miniature, about trying to retain a relationship and holding everything together, in spite of everything pulling you apart.

The bulk of the record was written after the release of 2021’s Somewhere. Bad Dream Jaguar is the most disparate yet, a collage of soundscapes, of fever dreams. It toes the line between country and pop, like putting on a cowboy hat and sitting in your bedroom alone, or getting all dressed up in glitter and just staying home.

Colwell has an ear for restraint, for editing it down and embracing emptiness; Sun June’s records have always been deceptively airy sounding in the face of melancholia, belying its densely textured foundation in a sense of ease. The layers on Bad Dream Jaguar don’t tangle they float, sheaths of divergent and luminescent sonics hanging together as the sun goes down, darkness seeping in.

Bad Dream Jaguar exists in the chasm between giving up and going all-in. And a flicker of quiet confidence powering through, a small hopeful glow at its core. “There was an east coast. There was a farm road. There was a five lane highway home. And it’s all right,” Colwell sighs on “Mixed Bag,” and you can’t help but believe it.

- Libby Webster

Links: Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

ALLIE

Sometimes the most profound new beginnings are only made possible by an equally impactful ending. Maybe Next Time, the debut full-length from Allie—the mononymous creative moniker of Nashville-based singer/songwriter Allie Cuva (they/them)—exists at such an intersection. Born out of intense personal upheaval, it’s an album of sonically ambitious yet deeply intimate indie rock that unflinchingly explores both the necessity of change and its challenges. And in the process, Maybe Next Time paints a vibrant portrait of an artist truly coming into their own.

After spending time in various musical projects around Nashville, Cuva was recruited as the touring/session drummer for Cavetown—an experience that would prove pivotal. They returned from a lengthy run of shows feeling inspired, restless, and more certain than ever that they had something to express. “I got home and felt very removed and strange, and music was a way to start trying to make sense of it,” Cuva explains. That desire fueled the writing of Allie’s debut EP, 2020’s Junior Coder’s Experiment, and its release began to reveal a path not just to catharsis, but also to self-discovery. “Putting the EP out under the Allie moniker ended up really illuminating some of the more subconscious feelings I was having about myself and my gender,” Cuva says. “I realized I’d always been trying to get a fuller sense of the picture, but the art really helped me touch on things that I was about to confront in a much more direct way. I started doing research, and seriously considering hormone replacement therapy and identifying as transgender and nonbinary.”

Cuva describes this decision as a choice to begin a lifelong journey, but it would start with the closing of a different chapter. “My longtime partner and I were no longer compatible,” Cuva says. “We didn’t want to separate—it wasn’t a matter of lack of love—but we realized that was the right thing for us as individuals.” The end of the relationship led Cuva to throw themself into writing, and the songs on Maybe Next Time began to take shape. The breakup album is a longstanding musical framework and while feelings of heartbreak and longing are about as universal as anything can be, Maybe Next Time takes an approach informed by Cuva’s unique perspective. The album documents not only the dissolution of a romantic partnership between two people, but also Cuva separating themself from the parts of a past identity that no longer fit. “The intensity of the symptoms of gender dysphoria, just feeling so in conflict with my body, my pronouns, how I presented to the world, it all felt really inauthentic and it was troubling because I didn’t know how to move forward,” Cuva says. “It’s a breakup record about people who didn’t want to break up. We’re still really close, she’s so supportive, and I tried to be mindful of that and honor the relationship with the record.”

Cuva recorded Maybe Next Time primarily in the spare bedroom of their home with the assistance of their brother, Jacob, and while they jokingly refer to it as a “guest bedroom pop” record, the album is far from lo-fi. Maybe Next Time’s dynamic sound ranges from sprawling, widescreen rock to dreamy, intimate indie folk—often within the same song—with Cuva’s warm, evocative voice and knack for melody bringing it all together. Opening track “Face” builds on sturdy drums and a propulsive bassline before crescendoing into a layered refrain that introduces many of the album’s core themes. “I wanted it to start the record because it’s about my identity, which was the catalyst for everything. It’s about reckoning with the way hormone replacement therapy physically changes your body and recognizing that I’m gonna be so different from how I was.” Songs like “ETYG” or “Name” navigate this idea of becoming someone new while grappling with your past self; the former through its atmospheric verses and soaring, falsetto-led chorus, and the latter a powerful, reverb-laden waltz. “Everything is so internal but then the scariest part is making it external,” Cuva says. “It’s a lot of ongoing conversations, but it’s a life-affirming choice, it’s something you do to be part of the world on your own terms. It’s a way to stay alive.”

Elsewhere, tracks like the bouncing guitar pop of “Destroyer” or the towering alt rock of “Ghost” mourn the ending of Cuva’s romantic partnership and the shared life that could no longer exist in the same capacity. And while sadness is certainly a part of Maybe Next Time, the album is not content to stay in that space forever. It’s a record about actively seeking a better understanding of yourself in order to find acceptance and to do right by yourself and the people you care about most—as evidenced by the hopeful “The Present Is Sorting Out.” “It’s a bit of a compass,” Cuva says. “An intuition that there’s only so much you can control, and sometimes you have to be less resistant to those currents to find some peace. Failures to be your best self can have negative implications for the people around you.”

Maybe Next Time comes to a close with “Ice Cream Song,” which interpolates the instantly recognizable tune of an ice cream truck into a swaying, wistful epilogue about the basic human need to connect— complete with a guest chorus of friends. “It’s sort of an existential thing,” Cuva says. “What fills the void or keeps us from nihilism? Love is what made this all possible. This whole experience kind of broke me, but then it helped me rebuild into who I was meant to be.”

Links: Instagram | Spotify