Bret Busch reimagines the Rock*A*Teens’ ‘Sun’s Up’

Smithsonian’s frontman and Atlanta music fixture preps for the arrival of ‘Pills Lace & Confetti’

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A bird’s-eye view of Bret Busch’s musical tenure in Atlanta offers something of a history lesson that’s best summed up in one intriguing word: onomatopoeia. Be it Pardner, Ramadamaifa, H.O.T.S. or the Smith’s tribute band he fronts, Smithsonian, there’s an endearing quality in each group’s name that projects exactly what’s in store.

Busch’s latest offering, however, is a stylish reinvention of the Rock*A*Teens’ song “Sun’s Up.” Press play on their Y2K album Sweet Bird of Youth, and the song unfolds in typical Rock*A*Teens fashion. Singer and guitarist Chris Lopez’s balance of heart-bursting melodies shrouded in noisy guitar textures come together in an exquisitely dreary wall of sound emotional clemency rolling forward like a steamroller.

Despite the noise and catharsis, there’s no denying the strengths of the song lying at the heart of it all. Nearly two decades later, Busch revives the song, strips it to its bare bones and reinvents Lopez’s cathartic energy as a crooning, starry-eyed and soft-spoken pop performance for the everyman.

This crystal clear reinvention of “Sun’s Up” was co-produced by Rock*A*Teens’ bass player Will Joiner and percussionist/Tribo Records founder Rafael Pereira, and is the latest look at what Busch has in store with his forthcoming album, Pills Lace & Confetti, due out July 14. Busch and Pereira, the latter of whom performs as a member of Janelle Mon??e’s live band, are joined by Terrence Brown on synth and keys and Joseph Shabason (Destroyer, War On Drugs, Born Ruffians) playing saxophone.

Much of Pills Lace & Confetti was written by the Rock*A*Teens’ Chris Lopez. “I’m from South Georgia, and I think Chris is a quintessential, modern Southern rock artist,” Busch says in a press release. “I knew that his whole ’50s-influenced vibe and his fascinating lyrics would be the perfect fit for this project.?۝

Onomatopoeia carried to a post-modern extreme.

Also, check out the album’s first single, “Where I’m Going,” which premiered via No Depression on June 5, and “Puget Sound,” which arrived June 9 via Surviving the Golden Age.

Listening party (with limited gatefold 180-gram vinyl sale) will be held July 14 at Mary’s at 8 p.m. The Album release party is on the calendar Fri., Aug.11 at Venkman’s.