Fastball Sonic Ranch

Fastball – Sonic Ranch (Album Review)

Fastball band

While most associate the Alternative Rock band Fastball with their 1998 album All the Pain Money Can Buy, with more than three decades under their belt, there is still so much more to the story. Initially begun back in 1992 under a different name, their 1996 debut album Make Your Mama Proud paved the path for broader success two years later. Looking back, All the Pain Money Can Buy was a mega success anchored by big radio hits like “The Way” and “Out of My Head,” but no one could have forecasted it going platinum within six months of initial release! A massively impressive feat, 2000’s The Harsh Light of Day may have not had the numbers of its predecessor, but still was chalked full of great tunes, including the ever-popular single “You’re an Ocean.”

Now two plus decades since that time, Fastball has sustained themselves with one quality album after another, but now in 2024 they are set to return with their latest album, Sonic Ranch. Their ninth overall studio album, and set for release on June 14th through Sunset Blvd Records, it also highlights the fact that the band are celebrating their 30th anniversary as they tour all around the USA performing live. Exciting times for the Texans, Fastball impressively has ‘kept the band together’ with Tony Scalzo (vocals, multi-instruments), Joey Shuffield (drums), and Miles Zuniga (vocals, guitar) as the core. A delightful trio, they came together yet again to create a fresh batch of songs that continue to push the envelope, all while continuing to capture the signature sound of Fastball. 

Consisting of ten songs, Sonic Ranch is full of mood shifts, but lifts off with the Power Pop sensation of “Rather Be Me Than You.” Complete with a melancholy sounding chorus, and catchy chord progressions, sprinkled in is the infectiousness of Fastball’s radio friendly sensibilities. A great beginning, in all it brings the band right back into the forefront of your mind.

From here Zuniga steps up to the plate with a beautiful acoustic track entitled “Daydream.” Featuring a percussive rhythm guitar that perfectly captures a somber feeling, it is essentially about getting lost inside yourself and finding a place where there is only sun. Very ethereal and open, another Zuniga track that stands out is “Hummingbird.” An addictive, dreamy sounding summertime song, it is perfect for days when you are out there cutting the grass, grilling with your family, or just soaking in some quiet time by yourself.

Beyond these, a stand out lyrical composition of this bunch has to be “America.” Kicking off with a very James Bond vibe, it sees Fastball taking a stand against what perceptions one might have of The United States of America based on what the media tells us. Here you see the band straight out say – what you see on TV isn’t everything that America is about or has to offer. Refreshing to hear, it reminds you that there is plenty to be seen if you just turn off the noise and step outside for a while.

With all of this, the brilliantly written “I’ll Be On My Way” ends Sonic Ranch in a fantastic way. Here, Scalzo is on piano stroking the keys of a beautiful melody as he sings about being owed ‘money,’ and if he gets it back… well he’ll be on his way. Not as cut and dry as it may sound, ‘money’ could be viewed as a metaphor, and can be interpreted as being owed back the love or effort you put into a relationship without reciprocation. Quite strong, it will make you remember the feeling of heartbreak and yearning resolve, but all while haunting you in the loveliest manner. 

Time after time Fastball consistently puts out excellent records that are thoughtfully arranged, performed and recorded. It is amazing to watch a band bring the goods every time all while retaining the ingredients that made them click in the first place. At this point you can tell these guys have it down pat, and their fans will be very pleased with Sonic Ranch, that is why Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.

Fastball Sonic Ranch
Fastball – Sonic Ranch / Sunset Blvd Records (2024) 

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Vincent PozzolanoAuthor posts

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  • It was sooo nice to finally meet you guys in person in Forest Park, Illinois. It was incredible! I loved how many fans knew the words to The Way, You’re An Ocean and Fire Escape. Can’t wait to hear this!

    • Thank you for reading the article Lisa! We are glad you enjoyed it. We hope you would browse around Cryptic Rock to see our vast, diverse coverage.

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