Sunspot: ‘The Slingshot Effect’

Article Published: Nov. 17, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 17, 2011
Sunspot: ‘The Slingshot Effect’

For Sunspot, it’s more about burning a lasting musical imprint rather than burning a hole in the music charts.

The Madison, Wis., rock band has made its mark on the Midwest through relentless touring and a handful of intelligent albums full of big sound. Bassist and singer Mike Huberty, guitarist Ben Jaeger and drummer Wendy Lynn Staats powered through the past decade of varying layers of musical atmosphere and arrived on the other end with an album representative of their journey. They descend to earth with their sixth LP, “The Slingshot Effect,” which receives an independent release on Nov. 22.

Sunspot, in their travels through time, retained little of what was toxic to the ears over the past 10-plus years, opting for some of the more agreeable qualities.Coming together in the late ’90s, the band utilizes the alternative rock that experienced a severe decline at the end of decade and years following.

“Guardian Angel” packs in melodies, an appropriate amount of aggression and guitarwork that would make ’90s rock fans want to revisit their old Stabbing Westward or Sponge CDs. The aforementioned song and the first single from the album, “We Are the Darkness,” satisfy those yearnings for music of years past.

Refusing to stagnate, Sunspot did modernize, adopting some industrial aspects.This is evident in their use of synthetic sounds, guitar effects and a drum machine. Most evident in the title track, “The Slingshot Effect,” they present a number that maintains antecedent qualities, while embracing sounds that are likely to be the norm in a futuristic society. Their approach works well, especially for a song inspired by the method of time travel in “Star Trek.”

There’s also a metal aspect that’s been pulled into the “The Slingshot Effect.” Jaeger intersperses more relaxed playing with piercing guitar riffs in “Deus Ex Machina” and “Cannibal.” The songs appeal to those who have a preference for the heavier music, but do not surpass the benchmark that would make them irritable to more laidback listeners.

“The Slingshot Effect” doesn’t delve so far into one area of music that it puts off people with selective tastes. Sunspot is a conglomeration of many influences identifiable with the familiar, but its formula is matchless and could only be created by intersection of the band’s members.

Huberty called “The Slingshot Effect” the “rock ’n’ roll equivalent of the Sci-Fi Channel.” Exploring Internet addiction, dark creatures and cannibalism, he scratches deeper than the surface, individualizing the band’s lyrical material. Sunspot could easily be referred to as “smart rock,” reaching further than the verse-chorus-verse formula and broaching philosophy and science and the supernatural.

Huberty asks in “Perfect,” “The past is never far away, but do you think that’s where I’m going to stay?” Sunspot’s answer is a resounding “no”; with “The Slingshot Effect,” it is obvious that Sunspot prefers to catapult into the future. But being resourceful, they avoid reinventing the wheel, using the elements that area already proven successful, while also implementing their own strategies.

Those at the other end of “The Slingshot Effect” will be hit by one of the more intriguing rock albums of recent years. Given a few listens, there are many that will have a burning desire to add Sunspot to their permanent collection.

Sunspot is online at

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