Satin Gum – “EP 2” Review

Satin Gum possess the spirit of golden age indie rock in their bones. The Pittsburgh quartet have unabashedly become the torchbearers for the sound of late 80’s-early 90’s college radio, easily adopting the free wheeling guitar work, three-part harmonies and slacker persona that made bands like The Replacements and Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr. all but synonymous with the adjective “indie” for the better part of a decade. Their 2009 release LP contained flashes of 70’s power pop  gloss (re: Big Star, The Flamin Groovies) but tracks like “I Got a D.U.I. Babe” and “Dance Me Home” were ultimately beholden to waves of distortion pitched with melody, quaking with a current of romantic bombast just beneath the surface.

However, the five song blast of their latest release EP 2 completely embraces their American underground roots, passionately evoking patron saints Malkmus, Westerberg and Pollard while churning out one indelible rocker after another. Don’t get me wrong: these songs are not mediocre photo copies of “Cut Your Hair.” I truly believe Satin Gum are men out of time, not merely paying lip service to their influences but embodying them without cynicism or outward pretension.

Lead singer/songwriter Brian Spekis keeps the themes familiar; the perils/insanity of young love tinged with mystified humor. Sepkis can’t help but make each song about a girl, but a particular kind of (absolutely fucking ridiculous) girl. On “Hip Shake Heartbreak”  Spekis sings about the crazy chick with feminine wiles he can’t help coming back to repeatedly, lamenting winding up in her bed “right back where I began.” “Flea Markets and Libraries” details a search for that mousy bookworm who looks cute under her Lisa Loeb glasses. Spekis has her floating in and out of his dreams to chiming tambourines, asking “Where do I find her?/In the Country or in the city?”  He finally succumbs to her secluded weirdness and assumes she’s “talking to her cats instead of me.”

And finally on “Love Not of this World” it’s the girl whose more fascinated by science fiction than her current boyfriend, dreaming “of cruising with Hal 9000/reading lips and killing dudes one by one.” This is a girl whose turned on by Darth Vader and blowing up planets in far away galaxies, her sense of scale is a bit exaggerated. The fleeting emotions of the slacker kid pining after her are fairly insignificant when compared to the Galactic Empire.

My analysis may have seemed needless, but the songwriting demands this level of attention; each track is like a little vignette of immature absurdity, as Spekis and co. strike the perfect balance of longing and hilarious confusion amongst all those J. Masics power chords. All in all, EP2 is another step in the right direction for Satin Gum, a band who works their ass off to get their sound focused and memorable, wishing away 2010 like it’s Athens, Georgia in 1993.

Next show: We are Scientists, Bad Veins, and Satin Gum, 8/15 @ Brillobox

Buy EP 2 here

Satin Gum – “Flea Markets & Libraries”

Satin Gum “Love Not of This World”

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