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Friday, April 8, 2011

Echoreview: Sam Sniper's We're Not Coming Back This Way

At first, the country twang of Sam Sniper's melodies might seem like your standard Americana fare. But then whispers of pop and rock slide in with a hint of electronica to give their sound a style like no other. While Sam Sniper shares many of its members with local group Yo Soybean, this band has got more of an experimental and irreverent vibe that makes it an altogether different and quite intriguing creature. Already a fan favorite at their live shows, Sam Sniper releases their debut album We're Not Coming Back This Way next week. But how do these tracks compare?

Well, the record gets a strong start with the twangy, sweet ballad Heart, Beat. Although the track is much slower and a bit softer than I would have expected from the live versions I've heard of this largely acoustic tune, it proves to be an excellent beginning to the album. Then after a short, almost eerie transition track styled after a video game tune, the dark, rhythmic Cancertowne plays its way into our ears. Nearly unclassifiable, this song features southern pop and country rock influences as well as an electronic touch. Whatever the style, though, this song never fails to leave me dancing!

The next song When All Of Our Sins Are Good is an impromptu style, lo-fi creation that sounds like a bunch of men just began singing a melody of woe on the front porch. To be honest, I wasn't really feeling this track on my first listen. However, coupled with its polished followup song Bitter Heart's Radio, which runs with the same tune as the one before it, the effect is quite unique. It's almost as if the listener was in on the whole process from the song's conception to its place as a widespread country pop hit single. This second track also has female backing vocals that add a united strength to the tune.

Another transition track THIS breezes in next, featuring spoken poetry set against an eerie melody and the sounds of a night in the lonely country. Despite its marked difference from the rest of the album, I truly enjoy this one. Then THIS melts into Comfortable Hypocrisy, which is without a doubt my favorite track on the record. A rolling backing tune moves this song along as its brilliant lyrics wind themselves through the night until those nature sounds fade back into the listener's conscious.

Now in spite of my general resistance to all songs country, My Home, a rather traditional-sounding country song that graduates into an unexpected electric guitar solo with an almost schizophrenic rap section, is one of my other favorites as well. Captain Boughman comes next, rounding out my series of favorites and bringing with it a mysterious organ-style vibe layered on top of a country melody that gives birth to an eighties rock feel. It sounds insane, yes, but it just works!

A slower, introspective ballad, the next tune Country Blue sounds like the type of song you would listen to as you watched the rain pour outside your window. Then Love on the Run brings a classic sort of country rock to the mix before gaining a bit of a pop rock edge underscored by a romantic blues-style solo.

Loneliness ushers in the final three softer and slower melodies with an electronic keyboard tune accented by a bit of that old country twang. Then Best of Me lends a calm, acoustic sound to the album as one single voice joins with many to build a moving rhythm. Finally, following the trend of slow and soft tunes, the title track features a return to the lo-fi, blues-infused sound. This final song, highlighted by lyrics that frame the album's tunes with mentions of endings and an emphasis on a single repeated line: "not coming back this way", certainly provides a peaceful, fitting conclusion to this lawless, eclectic journey.

While most of my favorites from this album can be found near the beginning of the record, We're Not Coming Back This Way as a whole is a well-executed, cohesive album and definitely an awesome addition to any music collection whether you're a country fan or a fan of unique, expertly blended genres. To check out Sam Sniper for yourself, you can catch them at the Caledonia Lounge on Friday, April 15th for their album release party. Best of all, every person who attends gets a free CD! You won't want to miss it!

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