Samiam – Astray


I love catching a band on tour before their album is out, because you get a chance to buy it there before the stores carry it. And so I’ve been listening to Astray (which people, including Samiam singer Jason Beebout, keep pronouncing Ashtray for some reason) for a few weeks now, and it’s grown on me the way all Samiam releases grow on me. None of the band’s music has had the immediate impact that “Capsized” from their major-label album Clumsy had, but they all stand the test of time.

And if you know the band, you know what to expect. This reformed punk band tears up the place with their blistering style of fast-paced, punk-infused rock. With Beebout’s vocals alternating between sincere singing and intense shouting and Sergie Loobkoff’s downright phenomenal guitar licks, this band is all about breathing new life into rock. Their songs, whether playful and silly or heartfelt and honest, come at you with the same amount of energy and power.

“Sunshine” starts things off with a more poppy beat and poppy guitar licks, but by the chorus, the Samiam you know and love is back. Blistering guitar riffs and Jason Beebout’s almost-shouted vocals come right at you with all the punk energy the band is known for. “Wisconsin” is a bit more loyal to the band’s Clumsy days, with a bit more punk rhythm and intense vocals, while “Mud Hill” shows off their new side. Starting with an emphasis on the bass and a more poppy yet straight-forward style, this song is another standout. There’s something of a Fugazi sound on the less punk but more all-out rock of “Paraffin.” “Mexico” is another favorite that goes from slower and more heartfelt to all-out rocking, and “Dull” just piles on the emotion without getting quite as fast, another stellar track. “How Long” sounds completely new for the band, taking on a significantly lighter, more poppy and light-hearted feel. And the closer, “Why Do We,” is a soft, almost ballad of a song, about the slowest and softest I’ve heard the band.

The band’s last album, You are Freaking Me Out, suffered a bit from their problems with their major label and their shift to a more poppy, more emotional style. But the band seems to have perfected that sound with Astray, and it’s great to hear that the major label issues haven’t discouraged them. Now with their new label, the band is still putting out loud and fast rock, tinged with emotion and both hardcore and punk sensibilities. And they do it so damn well.