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The Summer Set
Love Like This
Red Distribution Records
www.thesummersetband.com


There are many, MANY, power pop bands out on the scene today. A bi-product of Fall Out Boy and Something Corporate, perhaps? Well wherever the official origin came from, it's definitely a movement that's going to be around for at least a few more years. The newest contestant in the game is a band from Arizona called The Summer Set, and while their sound is very similar to their predecessors the group has a few defining characteristics to help them out.

The first major attribute that I see is the drumming and, more specifically, the female behind it. Naturally, most have seen female vocalists, and a few female guitarists/bassists, but a long-haired, delicate lady behind the drum kit? Not something this writer was expecting. Though to be completely honest, it's a role that while extremely important, isn't really too defined by the person holding it. So I had no idea that the excellent percussionist was of a different gender.

If you listen to one of the first numbers on their new album Love Like This called "Chelsea," you'll automatically be at ease with their music. While the song takes in a bit of '80s dance-electronic effects, on a whole it's a number with a textbook melody for bringing in the masses. The progressions are seamless and the lyrics are just thought-out enough for someone to want to listen, while simple enough to mesh into the rest of the song. Now, if I wanted to pick out a song that was going to illustrate the capabilities of this group, I'd have to go with "Young." It's taking in those '80s dance-electronic effects and simplifying everything else around them. All the elements are still there, but the drums stay fairly restrained and the guitars pretty much just add melody without taking front stage. The reason this song would automatically be picked is found in the the first few moments; a simple strumming, basic beats, and nearly poetic vocals are not a set of characteristics you'd expect from a power pop band.

Ok, so if you wanted to pick TWO songs to illustrate their capabilities, then you'd add "Can You Find Me?" If you're going to be technical, then by definition this number could be their ballad, but really it's more just throwing something new into the equation. Talk about simplifying things down, for the entire 3 minutes of this song, (unless they're hidden) there's merely three members contributing, as there is no apparent guitar/bass interaction and the drums are scaled down significantly. The main players are Brian (vocals) and Jessica (drums/electronic effects). Yes, the lyrics could easily be love related, however most of their songs can be, so this one is no different. A soft spot for this reviewer was hit on this song, when about 2 minutes into it a few strings show up. Simply beautiful.

Ending an album is a science. You can't give away your best number at the end, but you want to finish it on a good note and always leave a nice feeling in your audience. For The Summer Set, their choice for the finale was "Where Are You Now?" A smart choice? Yes and no. The song is quite pretty and completely different from the rest of the album (if that's even possible, as they're all different). So it's a great feeling to leave everyone with, yet might be so good that it could've used being a bit earlier in placement. Right away a diamond-in-the-rough sentiment comes out, when Jessica adds in her amazing voice. Choir level harmonies are easily met and set to the sound of an acoustic guitar and at one point some porcelain keys. This is one of those songs that will set the band above others like them in the same genre such as The Cab and Anarbor. And I would bet that it wasn't even on purpose. Still... diamonds.

Going into this album, there was a preconceived notion of just another power pop album. It was a pleasant surprise to be proven wrong. The chatter has started with this group and it's happily continued it.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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