Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Samiam- Billy

Pop-punk for people who didn’t like the genre, or, for that matter, know what it was. If we’re going to be strict about definitions, there’s no fucking way that Samiam fits the parameters, even though they started at Gilman, like so many of the participants. I guess I tend to think of pop-punk being simple 1-4-5 progressions, owing a lot to the Ramones musically and Buddy Holly vocally (a perfect example being Screeching Weasel, who will be reviewed tomorrow).

Samiam wrote these speedy songs with gritty hooks and bare, personal lyrics- Jason Beebout was trying to make sense of a shitty childhood, fucked up relationships and dead end jobs in an honest, literate fashion. His lyrics were the true hook- deeply situational but open-ended, so the next time you listened to the album you’d be able to plug some real life scenario into a song you hadn’t previously attached anything to. Just like that, a whole record fraught with deeply emotional attachments.

‘Billy,’ the band’s third album, finds ‘em writing longer, better developed songs than they had on either their self-titled debut or follow-up ‘Soar.’ The vocals on ‘Billy’ are occasionally buried under the music, a detriment for such a lyric band. It made me work harder to get at the words. I could see where attachments were missed for the very same reason.

Samiam- Astray

The follow-up to ‘You Are Freaking Me Out,’ the Samiam album that finally got the band some airplay and bigger audiences. ‘Freaking’ featured a bunch of slick-ish poppy punk songs that didn’t deviate from the Samiam formula of propulsive music tempered by finely wrought self-help/therapy vocals. The songs on ‘Astray’ aren’t quite as polished or verse-chorus-verse as the stuff on ‘Freaking’- less reliance on radio pop structure. Great tunes, and the production is in the right place, as well. As I mentioned up above, the Samiam listening experience is greatly enhanced by the lyrics, so clear vocals are nothing but a boon. The band has dropped off the face of the earth since the release of ‘Astray’- I’m ready for another one! C’mon!

Samuel- Lives Of Insects

Maybe Samuel had some comp tracks, outtakes that I couldn’t track down. To the best of my knowledge, they recorded a total of seven songs: one on a split with Texas Is The Reason, four on the ‘Lives Of Insects’ EP and another two on the ‘Empty And Then Some’ EP. Trying to Google the band is a nightmare- you know how many search results come up when you type in ‘Samuel’? Jesus, I’d have an easier time trying to unearth more info on the band if they had named themselves ‘The.’ I know that singer Vanessa moved to Boston at some point, played in the Good Furies (who I managed to miss EVERY FUCKING TIME) and the Wicked Farleys (ditto). That’s it, though. All of the web pages with traces of the band’s existence haven’t been updated for years. It’s like they carved their name into a tree and departed, meals found half-eaten on the tables when their empty village was discovered years later.

I’m making a huge fuss about a relatively obscure band (what else is new, I know) because they were totally on to something. I’m guessing the audiences they played for were of the hardcore/emo variety back when the lines between the two genres were still blurry enough to encourage cross-polination, kids who were open-minded enough to listen to guitar pop for punks. Shit was explosive- these pulsing basslines in direct lock step with the drums as the chord guitar battled with the lead guitar, each wrestling to be heard over the other. Melodies bled through the ruckus as Vanessa’s vocals, desperate and longing, hovered above the whole shebang, singing songs of frustration and turmoil.

I wish there was more to be had. Anyone?

MIX TAPE: Sideways Looker


Blogger NYCGuy12 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Karl Bakla said...

Samima is great I saw them years ago opening up for the Circle Jerks in Las Vegas, one a show, to bad the younger kids have seemed to loose interest in such a great band

2:51 AM  

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