The Sammies

The Sammies

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North Carolina garage rockers the Sammies work up an admirably rootsy sweat on their self-titled debut. Singer and keyboardist Frank Backgammon has a gruff voice with a howling edge that occasionally sounds like a much less mannered version of Jack White's trademark wail. Backgammon and guitarist Murphy Upshaw, along with bassist Gymmy Thunderbird and drummer Donnie Yale, are a ragged-but-right combo unafraid to bring in influences from '60s British Invasion pop songs (especially on the sweetly jangly, organ-driven "For John"), roadhouse country (the revved up "Trainwreck") and, quite unexpectedly, Pere Ubu-style post-punk noise (the needley, synth-driven "She Died") alongside the more familiar garage rock slop. Overall, the unpredictable mix of influences works more often than not, in spite of the band's tendency to run good ideas into the ground through repetition; five of the album's 13 songs break the four-minute barrier, and most of those would have benefited from a tighter arrangement. Overall, though, The Sammies is unpretentious, semi-retro-rock & roll that's like a new millennium version of Roy Loney and the Flamin' Groovies.

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