The Sammies


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Since the mid-'60s, when the sound was purveyed by the British Invasion rock bands and taken up by an army of American competitors, melodic pop/rock as played on two chiming electric guitars, an electric bass guitar, and drums has been a constant in popular music. It might be said that the Sammies recall some of the earliest progenitors of the sound, but they probably would be less enthusiastic about accepting comparisons to the Kinks, say, or the Electric Prunes than admitting the influence of later contributors such as Let's Active and R.E.M., especially since they made Sandwich, their second album, in the North Carolina studio where Mitch Easter made some of those bands' early records. They might be less happy if similarities were pointed out to other, less storied bands such as the Cars and the Smithereens, who come up primarily because of Frank Backgammon's baritone voice. In any case, anyone familiar with any of the names mentioned so far has gotten the idea. The Sammies play catchy music, whether it's called garage rock or alternative rock or indie rock; the guitars chime, the propulsive basslines are sometimes borrowed from Motown, and the drums keep a loping beat. It all supports earnest vocals that tend to be more buried in the mix than they were in the '60s, but perhaps less so than they could be in the '80s. The Sammies' major variation on the style comes in their occasional tendency to take a left turn mid-song and change the tempo and the chords, veering off into an instrumental coda. The greatest example here is the final track, "Saw Your Mother," which makes like "Layla" about halfway through. That doesn't quite turn them into Derek & the Dominos, but it's not something the Cars ever tried.

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