Album Review: Samiam – Stowaway

Samiam feel like the unsung heroes of the 90’s and early 2000’s; crafting fantastic, emotionally resonant and often very catchy punk rock with pop-leanings that could easily stand with the best records from Green Day, Rancid and Bad Religion. Yet they never reached the heights of fame or sales as those acts. But they kept going, maybe not releasing music and touring as frequently as their peers (I assume because they had to hold jobs and support families in other ways), but they never fully went away. And thankfully, the year 2023 is when they have finally agreed to return from where they were hiding, with both live shows and a brash, beautiful new album to share with the world, Stowaway.

As I wrote last year in my Comeback Alert, the band gave us the first taste of this new album with the excellent “Lights Out, Little Hustler”, an energized guitar attack that still held strong to the band’s knack for moving choruses. Feelings of disconnection from love, friends, the world and oneself permeate throughout. On second single “Crystallized”, a melodic alt rocker with a soulful chorus, singer Jason Beebout opines “on your disconnected phone, your dial tone, no one’s calling. no one’s coming near”, and declares “I’m moving farther out of reach”, making you feel the distance between the song’s narrator and the person on the other end of the phone.

Sometimes this disconnection is self-inflicted; the results of depression on “Shut Down” (“All the friends you used to call gave up long ago. You pushed them all away”) or substance abuse on “Shoulda Stayed” (“Drowning in a puddle of regret. Can’t remember what I said”). But these songs are never drowning in melancholy; Samiam‘s tight rhythm section and dual guitar blitzes give power to every track, and the hooks are always engaging. And Beebout’s vocals are packed with empathy and pathos; as he sings about a lost and downtrodden person on “Scout Knife”, repeating “Can’t wait for something good to happen”, you feel like he’s been in the same shoes and shares this truth.

And while it may be no surprise to the band’s longtime fans that they are still able to pack an emotional punch, the band is also still firing on all cylinders musically. Opener “Lake Speed” is a blistering track, with the guitars wailing like a siren, and barreling along with a frenzied urgency to it. Equally fast and powerful is “Something”, while “Highwire” belongs to Colin Brooks on the drums as he bangs out a storm. “Natural Disasters” carries a heavy bass line and various counter melodies that keep the song interesting until the giant chorus comes in, with the backing vocals taking the song to the next level.

While it took the band twelve years to finish this new album, it’s been worth the wait. Be sure to pick up the record when it drops on March 31st via Pure Noise Records, and until then you can stream the pre-released tracks here.



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