Friday, June 23, 2006

The Sammies: solid rock from Charlotte



The Sammies: "For John"
"Falling Out"
(from The Sammies 2006.)

In a little bit of a departure from standard Oak Room procedure (but not too much), here's a band from down the road in Charlotte. I got a copy of the Sammies self-titled debut album -- in stores next week -- and I quite like it. (Thanks to the folks at MoRisen for sending it my way -- check out this nice profile of the label in this week's Independent.) The Sammies blend various flavors of rock -- indie, classic, garage, a bit of hard -- without blatantly aping any one of them. They describe their sound as "a hybrid of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pavement, and MC5," which isn't too far off.

There's some great guitar playing here, not in the form of wanky flashy solos, but in the churning, shifting foundation that Murphy Upshaw and Frank Backgammon establish for the band's songs. I'm partial to the songs with a little more indie quirk to them -- the all-out rockers are fun but less distinctive, and Backgammon's vocals are more effective when they're reined in a bit. "For John" may be the best of these. Upshaw unspools a long guitar line that makes me think of some of the more cinematic elements of the Edge's style circa Joshua Tree. "Falling Out" is another good one, charging along on those ringing guitars. You can check out other songs at the band's web site and MySpace.

The Sammies play on Saturday (6/24) at Local 506, with label-mates Elevator Action and Raleigh's Nathan Asher & the Infantry. (So there's the local hook...) Elevator Action have kind of a trash/glam thing going on. Nathan Asher is the most traditional rock-n-roll of the set, verbose and earnest. The ever-pithy Ross Grady says "like Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith on a blind date, doing lots of amphetamines."

(I often find Ross's thumbnail descriptions spot-on, or at least I can usually see what he's getting at. But his take on the Sammies baffles me: "a bunch of rednecks who spent a lot of time listening to The Cure." Do I just not know what the Cure sounds like?)

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