Album Review
Samiam - Whatever's Got You Down Album Cover

Samiam - Whatever's Got You Down

Reviewed by
Samiam - Whatever's Got You Down
Released September 26th
Hopeless Records

Not too close to predictable punk sensibility and not too far from Bay Area DIY mentality, veterans Samiam capitalize on Soar era organic-or-bust punk rock with their long awaited album, Whatever’s Got You Down. Taking cues from singer Jason Beebout’s “busted up relationships” and six full years of reminiscing, the band has finally pulled together to create a filler-less, 12-song collection that is a testament that products of the ‘90s punk explosion are still relevant and more-so leading the pack, so to say.

Purposely subjecting the album to rawer production, Samiam recollect rougher times when bedroom recording was just fine. While this would be considered marginally insane to quasi-punk bands that Whatever’s Got You Down tries to separate itself from, it works for the album, somewhat. The tracks seem bruised, possibly conveying the band’s dislike for the radio waves, at the same time remaining a polar-opposite to 2000’s Astray and the clean-shaven, starry eyed songs that came with it. Though the drums retain a muddy clunk and the substance of the song as whole seems hollow at times, this choice to lower production standards seems to work for the band, without sidestepping too much.

Guitarist Sergie Loobkoff insists on labeling the Whatever’s Got You Down “dirty”, either regarding the aforementioned production or the songs in general. Let’s hope for his sanity that he is describing the production as such. The album’s sound is punk-rock, as straightforward as it comes. The intro track, “When We’re Together”, would be the outcome of Fugazi’s next album being influenced by the Foo Fighters’ One by One. Forceful in their non-stop guitar aerobics, Samiam can and will stray into different territory. “Do You Want to Be Loved” finds Sergie semi-circling riffs and drummer Johnny Cruz intent on building up tension in the verses, almost perfectly resembling a perfected version of Bear vs. Shark’s “Start Small Great Destroyer”. The song also calls for Beebout to lose the trademark punk snarl and, instead, sing more low-tempo, following the lines, “Do you want to be loved/Who would want someone who would want someone like you?” Seemingly extracting the searing euphoria that fans know all too well, track seven, “Come Home”, demonstrates a more casual, rhythm-section based divergence that finds itself as one of the best tracks on the album. This palette of emotions captured in Samiam’s punk-rock variety defines Whatever’s Got You Down and its ability to appear quite multi-faceted, yet keep their signature energy and musical aptitude intact.

Fans of the band’s previous releases or even the genre in general will be hard-pressed to see this album out of their CD player. No more of a daunting sound than Hot Water Music or Jawbreaker, you’re transition to Samiam should be an easy one. Old admirers shouldn’t find too much different and, in fact, will welcome the noticeable change from Astray. Now let’s just hope another hiatus isn’t going to be implemented before people start noticing an album that warrants more interest than most.
This review is a user submitted review from Scott Irvine. You can see all of Scott Irvine's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
08:58 PM on 11/07/06
Ryan O'Reily
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This band is extremely underrated. They bring me back to my high school years
09:47 PM on 11/07/06
Brandon Allin
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Great writing, Scott.
11:34 PM on 11/07/06
I was born a wise man
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smoke4thecaper's Avatar
I'm enjoying your reviews, Scott. I've missed Samiam, and I think this is a pretty decent return-to-form. Nice review, man.
06:17 AM on 11/08/06
May your music break my ear drums
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ugman_2000's Avatar
I'm so gutted I missed samiam last month over here in the UK I was skint.

I love the album billy so i'm looking forward to getting this album when i get paid
06:41 AM on 11/08/06
Idle Will Kill
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Big_Guy's Avatar
I would have liked this a lot better if the production/recording didn't sound like crap.

great songs though. Samiam rules
10:06 AM on 11/08/06
blown from the hinge
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fearthesloths's Avatar
this is a great record, there are point where i don't like the vocals though, which is a shame but still... its samiam, who's complaining?
08:21 PM on 11/08/06
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what's the best samiam record?
08:07 PM on 11/14/06
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real hard to tell bro ... i mean if you had the chance to followed this band from the late days , till now, you would had seen the " evolution " ... imo the last album is th best, but thats only coz i was ready for it ... your best choice is to get all the albums and start from scratch ... its a nice ride and hope you will enjoy it ...

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