Baltimore indie quintet Sun Club shines bright

Baltimore indie quintet Sun Club enters the spotlight.

There is a specific type of delirium only road-tested musicians know. Sun Club's Shane McCord felt it in the midst of his band's recent 30-date run, which included a 15-hour trek from Milwaukee to Denver, followed by a 13-hour drive to Montana.

"It's been intense. We left on September 26 and — I don't even know what day it is," McCord said on the phone while traveling through Texas recently. "It's insane. I just black out when I get in the van now. I don't remember any of the time we're in the van anymore. It just gets erased from my brain or something."

This is the new reality for Sun Club, a Baltimore indie-rock quintet that suddenly has the attention of many more eyes and ears after signing in August to ATO Records (home to Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket and Baltimore-bred J. Roddy Walston and the Business). Last week, Sun Club released its debut album, "The Dongo Durango," and the band ends its tour Friday with a record release show at the Crown in Station North.

It's a whirlwind time for the group, whose members' ages range from 21 to 23. Sun Club began after brothers Shane and Devin McCord and their neighbor, Mikey Powers, became friends as middle-school students in Severna Park. They learned White Stripes covers, wrote metal songs and rented out a local civic club to perform for friends on Friday nights.

By 2012, Sun Club had grown more serious as its lineup solidified. (The band looks now how it did then: Devin on drums, Shane on guitar, Powers on guitar and vocals, Adam Shane on bass and Kory Johnson on keyboards and other percussion.)

While Sun Club made its Baltimore debut at the Sidebar in 2009, the band didn't realize the allure of the city's DIY music scene until moving here a few years later.

"We didn't start hanging out, hanging out in Baltimore until I started going to the Dan Deacon shows and shows at the Copycat [Building]," McCord said. "That was super-inspiring because it was kind of what we were doing before in the suburbs but an actual real version of it. It was just like, 'Holy crap. This is amazing.'"

(When it came time to choose a venue for tonight's show, the band considered a larger space than the Crown, but ultimately went with its gut. "It's just the right vibe," Powers said. "Everything is about the vibe.")

Based in Charles Village, Sun Club sounds like a product of a music scene as vibrant as Baltimore's. They write hummable pop songs with off-kilter time changes and titles such as "Puppy Gumgum" and "Tropicoller Lease." The album reveals contemporary influences like Animal Collective's hooks and Vampire Weekend's more energized cuts, even as McCord admits the band often fails to keep up with mainstream music. ("Alabama Shakes are actually really sick," McCord said after confessing he only recently listened to the group after learning they now shared a label.)

But the most striking aspect about Sun Club is the group's exuberance. It's a hallmark of its live show — band members charmingly yelp and bounce up and down throughout an energized set. The goal for "Durango," was to capture that palpable force on record.

"We tried to get as much energy as we could into the recordings," McCord said. "Sometimes, [it] gets lost in the recordings, but we really tried to focus on that."

Last October, Sun Club spent two weeks recording the 11-track "Durango" with producer Steve Wright live in a Pigtown warehouse they temporarily turned into a makeshift studio. Microphones were hung up all over the 60'x60' room to pick up sounds from all corners.

"Is still has a professional quality to it, but it definitely wasn't done in a studio, which we liked," McCord said.

The band plans to record its sophomore album next year, Powers said, on top of touring as much as possible. With raised expectations from its label, listeners and the band itself, Sun Club's members are determined to not lose sight of their top priority.

"Some of the people we've toured with, we've seen them get into situations with a label or their manager where they kind of lose perspective of what they were originally trying to do," Powers said. "That's what ends up making them break up or really not like doing it anymore. To an extent, it's about us just trying to keep true to what we originally wanted to do, which was keep the music more important than anything else."

wesley.case@baltsun.com

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If you go

Sun Club performs Nov. 6 at the Crown, 1910 N. Charles St., second floor, Station North. Elon, Sherman Whips and Spy in the Sky will also perform. Show starts at 9 p.m. $5. thecrownbaltimore.tumblr.com.

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