Samiam shows that a band can stay together for more than ten years, get dropped by a major label, and still put out a great record. Astray, the Berkeley, CA, band's sixth album, is vintage Samiam: staccato guitars that suddenly burst, emotional lyrics, and a tight, indie punk sound. Once again, the band continued to push the boundaries of melodic hardcore with Astray. Highlights include "Super Brava," "Calloused," and "Dull," the last a flowing song long enough to have different movements. A telling line: "I've had a lot of time to think, and I'm so tired of thinking/I know why he put that bullet in his skull/because life can be so dull." While the band's name is borrowed from Dr. Seuss, the music is more sophisticated than children's books, as well as most punk rock.
by Ron DePasquale