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Luke Sweeney releases Special Stoner (single)

The video for “Special Stoner”, a cut from San Franciscan Luke Sweeney’s full length release Peace Meal, is another high point in the career of this musician, poet, vocalist, and songwriter. Sweeney first began his journey as a solo artist in 2013 and has built a formidable reputation thanks to two previous studio outings entitled Ether Ore and Adventure: Us, respectively. His blending of image laden classic rock and psychedelic pop has garnered considerable critical acclaim from every quarter and his third album release further moves the goalposts for this prodigiously talented performer. Producer Robin MacMillan has done an admirable job capturing the intangible qualities of Sweeney’s art in this recording and the video accompaniment for the track fleshes the track out even more thanks to its canny visual sense and creative flair.

The infectious melodicism of “Special Stoner” wastes no time impressing listeners. It is a guitar-driven track musically, but the drumming and jangling acoustic guitar chugging away underneath further reinforces its inherent strengths. The recurring flourish of descending guitar notes providing the song’s signature musical moment is the main hook for the track, but there’s ample ear candy present for listeners to latch onto. Sweeney’s voice is pure pop rock bliss – there are strong hints of prime McCartney many will hear in his singing, but Sweeney is far from a shallow imitation of greater talents. It is a reference point and nothing more for his singular talent.

The video makes kaleidoscopic use of color throughout the clip. It is gaudy, at times but never mars the viewing experience and befits the song’s bright bounce. There are many close-ups of Sweeney’s face lip syncing with the track and a variety of infrared images popping up throughout the course of the video. Roses, The Beatles, pie, and sculpture are among them. It eschews, for the most part, the typical jump cut style long a staple of promotional clips, though the pace is break neck during some portions of the video. It has a slight DIY feel to it, but nonetheless aims for and achieves a professional level of polish far removed from Sweeney’s “garage rock” origins. Such effects are intentional.

One of the unquestioned musical highlights of the song is a memorable, torrid guitar solo Sweeney rips into during the song’s second half and the focus lingers on him during this part of the video further emphasizing its importance in the song. It puts an emphatic exclamation point on the track listeners won’t soon forget without ever risking self-indulgence. Viewers and listeners alike will be hard pressed to find even a hint of self-indulgence dragging down Sweeney’s musical and visual presentation. “Special Stoner” is, indeed, a special song and an obvious choice for a single release. It reaffirms Sweeney’s position as one of the best writers and performers working in the indie scene today and bursts out of the speakers and off the screen with inspired imagination and a healthy respect for tradition. Newcomers to Luke Sweeney’s art will no doubt return for more.

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John McCall

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