Samiam - Whatever's Got You Down (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Whatever's Got You Down (2006)


With 6 years between full-lengths -- in which veteran Cali-punks Samiam labored through a sorta hiatus status in which several overseas tours occurred -- one would think the band should be willing to embrace a whole new audience. But as Whatever's Got You Down proves, they could certainly lure back a few of their own fans, too.

Whatever's Got You Down at its core is purely heartfelt punk rock. Growing up in the same scene and timeline as Jawbreaker, there's quite a few similarities: the raw 24 Hour-like dirge of great standout "Take Care;" "Do You Want to Be Loved," which interestingly samples the haunting opening chords of Pixies' "Where Is My Mind" at its start; the Horace Pinker nodding verses of "Storm Clouds;" the burly stop-start tumble of "Anything"'s intro. Samiam undoubtedly sound like a particular band they've surely influenced through their years too, though: Hot Water Music. Through modest hooks and simple, fetching lines, Jason Beebout's voice is rough and yet absolutely soars through emotional cuts like "When We're Together" and the aforementioned "Take Care." I think it would be silly to say Samiam channels the aura of the Gainesville band's stint on No Idea Records, but I can sense that the current overlapping of fans between the two would find a lot to appreciate on Down.

It's just really odd that musically, the band plays emotionally urgent punk rock in one of its far better stages yet are able to get away with so many unusual flourishes doing it. They can throw in pretty octaves ("Do You Want to Be Loved") or lines of absolute, simple bitterness or desperation ("I meant everything I said / You're lucky we're still talking at all;" "I miss you so much"). It's a huge mid-life crisis -- a fucking heartache really, but it actually sounds sincere coming from Samiam's narrative.

While not likely to make the same impact of the band's early-to-mid-`90s landmarks, Samiam has made a fine addition to the album catalog of Adults Talking About Relationships Intimately (ATARI), and an equally fine addition to their own. Consider this first pseudo-post-reunion effort a solid success.

Do You Want to Be Loved

Take Care