Radio killed the radio star

If you’re going to go fishing for inspiration in the corporate-radio pond, it pays if the fish you catch have compelling quirks to offset their popularity.

In the case of Sun Domingo, an unabashedly melodic rock quartet based out of Greenville, S.C., the influence of heavy hitters like Coldplay and U2 is obvious. But Radiohead, Crowded House and Big Star are there, too — and no one could ever accuse those bands of being generic.

Sun Domingo is a rare case in point that, regardless of how many other artists are discernible within a band’s sound, a distinct vision is going to come across no matter what — as long as it’s there to begin with. The band channels their influences openly, but manages to do so respectfully and with their individuality intact.

“Overall, it’s kind of sad,” observes Sun Domingo lead vocalist and bassist Jason Pomar about the state of radio. “I know that it’s a business, and I know that they make money and that’s what they have to do to stay afloat, but it’s a shame that they have to find a ‘sound’ and then market that.”

In conversation, Pomar is exceptionally polite, but his comments intensify as he thinks more about radio.

“It’s just sad, just sad,” he continues, before adding with a laugh, “I guess you can tell I feel kinda strongly about this.”

The funny (and endearing) thing is that, even with such strong feelings, Pomar remains even-tempered. He barely raises his voice before he sees the need to leaven his thoughts.

“Of course,” he says, “you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, either.”

That seems about right — because although Sun Domingo hasn’t received much mainstream airplay yet, it certainly isn’t far-fetched to imagine that they could. The polished melodicism of their self-titled debut EP, with its soaring vocals, straight-ahead beats and heavy flourishes of acoustic guitar, seemingly places the band squarely within the confines of typical pop rock. However, their music also reflects an underlying creative focus that sets it apart.

Together as a four-piece only since last October, the band has posted online a more recent recording — a four-song demo — that captures Sun Domingo’s considerable growth since the debut. Already, this sounds like a band on the move toward a vision, and it’s exciting to catch them now, while it’s still clear that they’re in the hunt for it. The newer material only reinforces the natural affinity for hooks and sophisticated arrangements that the EP suggests, only this time the band sounds more aware of tone and texture. Sun Domingo is scheduled to record yet another demo, this time with producer Jeff Glixman (Allman Brothers, Kansas, Black Sabbath, Head East, Anthrax).

Glixman happened to be recording at the same studio in Atlanta when drummer Edgel Groves, Jr.’s father struck up a conversation with Glixman without even knowing who the producer was. The senior Groves and Glixman stayed in touch, and one thing led to another.

The casual, serendipitous ease of the coincidence, and the fact that it has materialized into concrete plans, isn’t lost on Pomar. In the space of a few months, all of Sun Domingo’s members quit their day jobs, half of them relocated, and the band is slated to play 200 shows this year, thanks to the efforts and experience of manager Matthew Mayes (of Brevard band Jupiter Coyote).

“I never anticipated things happening as fast as they have,” says Pomar, who claims he’s been intuitively aware of auspiciously timed coincidences since his earliest memories. “I’ve thought about that a lot lately. I really think I can trace it all the way back. I like the feel of the wheels in motion. … I feel a great sense of purpose with what we’re doing.”

[Saby Reyes-Kulkarni is a freelance music writer. More of his work can be viewed at www.whoneedscritics.com]


Sun Domingo plays Wild Wing Cafe (161 Biltmore Ave.) at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. No cover. 253-3066.

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