Samiam - Stowaway LP (Orange and Yellow A side B Side)


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Samiam wouldn't be the same without a little bit of chaos. Over their three decades together, the Oakland, CA-based band have specialized in energetic hard luck songs that are as hooky as they are relatable, so perhaps it's fitting that the creation of Stowaway, the band's first new album in 12 years and their ninth full-length overall, wasn't the easiest. But there are very few bands better at capturing the feeling of stumbling only to get up again, and on Stowaway, Samiam prove exactly why they remain one of the most endearing and enduring punk bands of their generation.

Stowaway seamlessly picks up where Samiam left off, with just as much energy, melody, and pathos as their classic works. From the bristling kineticism of opener "Lake Speed," to the impassioned melancholy of the closing title track, the band sounds just as vital as ever. Kennerly and Loobkoff weave their dual guitar attack over Darby and Brooks' taut rhythm section, while Beebout's voice soars from one anthemic chorus to the next, his trademark tuneful grit still intact. But Stowaway isn't about recapturing the past: the album is informed by the accumulation of experiences – good and bad – that comes from living full lives, especially if over 30 of those years were spent as working musicians.

Kennerly describes the album's themes bluntly: "Failure for sure. Tenacity in the face of continuing failure; failure to communicate, failure to succeed, failure to find meaning. Which is weird because it's actually kind of an uplifting album as far as Samiam goes." The record tracks the bluster of youth as it evolves into frustration, and eventually, the clarity that comes with age. "Crystalized" is a jittery surge of memories both sad and hopeful that reflects the band's own experience, while the crunchy hooks of "Stanley" and "Shoulda Stayed" pack an extra dose of the wistful longing at which Samiam excels. On "Lights Out Little Hustler," Beebout bellows "there's always something in the way," a line that mirrors the difficult path to making Stowaway. But once again Samiam pull off their magic trick of creating a defeated refrain that's sure to be life affirming when shouted back at a show.