cover sundown

There are some artists that are just better acoustic, all by themselves, and you see this in the difference in their live shows and their albums. Now don’t get me wrong these guys are usually fucking amazing either way but the stripped down versions are more my taste. It’s pretty rare that you actually get to compare studio recordings and that’s just what Jason Kutchma has given us with Sundown, USA. He recorded this one with the Five Fifths and then went and did a solo version. Both are great because the real strength is in the songwriting but I prefer the solo version. This isn’t a slight against the full band, after all, Pastorals was a Goddamn religious experience and still in heavy rotation for me. This one just feels like it was meant to be what the solo version ended up being. Now had I only ever heard the Five Fifths version I would be damn glad I had it to put in my ears and I’d still be writing about it so don’t go thinking you don’t need both in your collection, because you do. (On his website the solo album is titled At The End Of Every Day I Make A Sunset while on Last Chance’s store it’s listed as Sundown, USA (Solo Version))

I guess the difference is that the tone of the solo album is more somber and the music feels like there’s a little less hope than on the Five Fifths version. Jason Jutchma appears to be a pretty easy going guy if you’ve caught him live or watched him on YouTube and maybe that’s because he exorcises his demons through his music and songwriting. It’s a bit of a puzzle seeing him smile while singing lines like:

I scratched and crawled I cried and bawled
I was shamed cause I believed
That somehow this, the way it is, ain’t how it’s supposed to be
How I love every one of my poor failed dreams

makes it seem like he’s pretty sure there’s something beyond the sadness he’s writing. And that’s the trick here, even on the darkest tracks there’s never really a sense of giving up or giving in. There’s always some hope in there and I get the feeling that Jason really believes it’s all gonna work out somehow. This theme ithe s there on Sundown, USA, it was there on Pastorals, and even on Red Collar’s Welcome Home. I think that’s what draws me to his work and won’t let me get the songs out of my head. For an album full of what amounts to sad songs I can’t help but feel better after having listened to it. I just can’t help it!

Some light downtown burning bright
And some dumb kid looks up to the sky
He says nothing’s gonna stand in my way

I was that kid and I still am some days. That’s part of why it’s a damn shame we haven’t talked more about Jason on here. Aside from thinking I can’t think of a single person I know that couldn’t relate to at least a couple of songs on any given album, his songwriting is damn good and the music is right at home with our usual themes. I’d say that every record I’ve mentioned here is Essential Listening. Which version of Sundown, USA ends up in heavy rotation for you is going to depend either on your taste or your mood just like it does for me but both ought to be in your collection. You listen and decide with version you like better…

Something Got In The Way
Something Got in the Way

I Believe Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
I Believe Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

I’ll Move No More
I’ll Move No More

Buy JKutchma’s music from Last Chance Records, follow him on Facebook, and drop by his official site.


  1. Charles his set Sunday was mostly new stuff with some Red Collar songs thrown in with them. Hist other set was more of a mix of everything.

    Mark did you read that blog series he posted about recording both versions of this record? Great read and really puts some background to them both.

  2. Somehow I missed this post. Jason is putting together his previous posts that Nick mentioned into a book form that will be out later this year. He’s also working on another record we hope to release before he hits the road again.

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