During the rather lengthy time between releases due to some internal struggles, I’m sure many were skeptical about if whether or not Samiam’s Whatever’s Got You Down would measure up to past material, like 2000’s landmark record Astray, or if just maybe Samiam had passed their prime.
I’m really glad to be able to say I’m pleasantly surprised with how good this album is. Not to say I didn’t think the band could pull off such a strong return to form; there’s just so much that could’ve gone wrong. For example, would the bands heartfelt sincerity and gritty fragility age gracefully? Would Jason Beebout’s straightforward heart-on-sleeve lyrics stay credible with maturity? After the first half of the record, most of my worries were laid to rest and I was able to fully embrace these tracks as examples of some damn fine punk rock songwriting.
It’s the elegant simplicity of the music that I think gives Samiam their charm. The lyrics are blatant, yet genuine. The music is straightforward, yet engaging – and these couplings are consistent with most of the elements the band exudes. Songs like “Take Care” and “Anything” are great, upbeat punk rock songs that lend beautifully to Beebout’s coarse, vulnerable singing.
Samiam go hand in hand with the Alkaline Trio or Hey Mercedes in the aspect that, while maybe not sonically similar, each of these acts creates (or created) bouncy rock music that pleasingly counterbalances melancholic or emotionally loaded vocals. “Storm Clouds” could be the albums knockout punch because of its great foiling of previously mentioned counterparts that ultimately make up this record. The track flows beautifully, with the band’s melodic awareness at its peak.
Unfortunately for the band and listeners alike, the production and engineering on this record is horrendous and robs the band of some aesthetics that would better present their material; however, and as a testament to how great this album is, the music is still able to penetrate such an ugly shell and resonate. The band’s talent manages to shine through the lousy studio polishing, which is great, but unfortunately left me wondering what could’ve been.
Whatever’s Got You Down may not exactly be the band’s best or most memorable effort, but after releasing an album like Astray, that title is likely out of reach. Being fair, though, this record is a rather enjoyable release from a well-aged veteran punk band that should be embraced by both old fans, and the new ones it is poised to garner. [ END ]
01. When We’re Together
02. Take Care
03. Get It Right
04. Do You Want To Be Loved?
05. Storm Clouds
07. Come Home
08. Are You Alright?
11. Holiday Parade
12. Bide My Time
13. Ham Bone (Bonus)
Run Time: 42:27