Clear blue skies and warm weather seem to crave a soundtrack, and since the dawn of music, certain artists have been able to tap into that vibe. Whether it's Vivaldi's "Summer" or the Beach Boys' entire catalog, some music just sounds better when played during the warmer months, tying into the season's lazy, carefree feeling.
On the surface, At Sixes and Sevens would seem to the be antithesis of summer music. Loewenstein (normally part of the currently-hibernating Sebadoh) recorded the album at his home studio on an analog reel-to-reel 8-track. It features songs with titles like "More Drugs" and "Funerals". And it's on Sub Pop, a label still more associated with the rainy Northwest than with beaches and open highways. Appearances can be deceiving, however; At Sixes And Sevens' first two songs quickly dispel fears of gloomy basement recordings. The opening riff of "Codes" demands to be played at high volume while cruising down the highway in a convertible, and that theme is carried through on the buzzed-out coolness of "Casserole".
At Sixes and Sevens is more than just a summer album. While a few of its songs are ideal for warm weather, this is more a collection of strong tunes that happen to sound good when it's sunny, than songs written explicitly with hot weather and beach-going in mind. Most of Loewenstein's work here simply puts a happier spin on Sub Pop's raw, rough-edged rock formula -- the sort of thing Kurt Cobain might have written if Prozac was free. Songs like "NYC III" and "More Drugs" are definitely based on the quiet-loud-quiet dynamic upon which grunge depended so heavily, although Loewenstein is smart enough not to beat the dynamic to death. Also, both "Angles" and "Upstate" bristle with such urgent, punky energy that you'll have no trouble remembering exactly why so many people saw so much promise in the grunge movement.
The only question that remains after listening to At Sixes and Sevens is when to listen to it. It might be just a little too dark for the sunniest days, while listeners hoping to wallow in uncharted gloom may be paradoxically depressed to find that it lifts their spirits. In any case, the answer is clear: the best time to listen to Loewenstein's debut is whenever you're in the mood for solid, satisfying rock and roll.