Setting up base in Berkeley, California, the modern rock quintet
Samiam have released their seventh studio album Whatever's
Got You Down, produced by Chris Moore (TV On The
Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The music has a SoCal vibe
along soft punk sprints and modern rock influences. In many ways,
the album is far from sounding like their Atlantic Records debut
release Clumsy back in 1994 which had a power punk-pop
sound reflective of Green Day's Dookie. Samiam isn't
the same band they were back in 1994. They have experienced many
incarnations over the years, but this new amalgamation shows solidarity.
Samiam began in the Bay Area in 1988 and presently only two of
the original members still remain - lead vocalist Jason Beebout
and guitarist Sergie Loobkoff. For the proceeding twelve
years, Beebout and Loobkoff went through a hand full of drummers
and bassists before pulling everything together in 2000 with Jeremy
Bergo on bass, Johnny Cruz on drums and Sean Kennerly
on rhythm guitar. Samiam's latest incarnation has the 5-piece
rolling out rock tunes with melodic links and light punk rhythmic
motions. Lead vocalist Jason Beebout's pipes have a Roger Daltrey
echo on many of the tracks, conveying a husky tonality and deep
throated pitches. Other times his vocals reach soaring lengths
and softer keys like on the power pop/rock sprockets for "Come
Home" and "Lullaby" where he displays a Marc
Roberge (of O.A.R.) fluidity. There a retro-rock feel
in the instrumentation and a modern rock crank in the movements
on "Get It Right" and "Holiday Parade" which
are reflective of Built To Spill.
However, the lyrical content has an emo-esque core and grunge-rock
influences with phrases that look inward at one's private thoughts
as Beebout chimes, "She left her charm bracelet by the bed/
I kept it, though I don't know what it meant/ Something to hold
memories of my own/ An absent-minded offering," taken from
the song "Anything." There is a garage rock essence
and SoCal motion in the sequences balanced by a melodic-pop polish
so the songs have ragged edges while hailing a consonance that
allows them to have a wisp of elegance. The chord changes on "When
We're Together" and "Believer" manage dynamic moves
with fluid grace and guitar atmospherics similar to Muse. Samiam
purveys a country western feel on the ditty "Bide My Time,"
tacked on the end of the album which introduces a new element
that breaks away from the pop/rock sediment of the previous tracks.
It could be a reflection of what is up next for Samiam or something
just done for fun.
Samiam have found themselves in a very unique position. They
are in demand for tours but they still have not reached the commercial
success of their peers. They are like the bridesmaid who feels
like she will never be a bride, always the opening act but never
the headliner. The band says that they just did this record for
fun, not for record sales or to pander to radio, but then how
many couples start out dating just for fun and end up happily
married? Samiam show solidarity in their music on Whatever's
Got You Down and no matter what result they want, it's always
a happy result when one is truly settled.
1. When We're Together
2. Take Care
3. Get It Right
4. Do You Want To Be Loved
5. Storm Clouds
7. Come Home
8. Are You Alright
11. Holiday Parade
12. Bide My Time
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