When we encounter a new band, there's always the hope that it will somehow reignite the spark we have for all the groups we've ever heard. As great as music is, the love wears out. This fundamental truth is the reason why, as much as I love Ten by Pearl Jam, I don't go blaring the cd ten times in a row because I've heard it ten thousand times before. As our tastes evolve, so does music, and we must have a different flavor to our fix, even if it must be from a different source.
I am a rock and roll journalist by trade. I do not feel bad about this, although the hours are as chaotic as the pay. I don't get the big bucks but I do get to listen to the big albums before the rest of the world does. I was a good kid this year and ended up with a copy of Phantoms, by Ume, a group from Austin, Texas, who is so damn proficient that Rolling Stone has already declared them to be "...one of the best unsigned bands in America."
You really should own a copy of Phantoms, and it can be found right it here. That's not a cheap plug. It's just that aside from being a solid LP that will make your music collection snazzier due to it's unique, brightly colored cover (a pink skull wallpaper design, as if Liberace conquered Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and redecorated the place) it's also the kind of honest, hard-working American rock and roll you wish was produced more often in the country today.
I am a harsh critic of albums because if I'm not, then bad taste will conquer the music industry and mankind will know an eternity of darkness. I am also a brutal judge of music because I grew up on the good stuff, darn it, like Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, so you can't fool me.
When Phantoms gave me harsh drums and slamming guitars against a dark fuzz of sound, similar to opening feedback in the song "Attack of the Ghost Riders" by The Raveonettes, I knew it was going to be a chill ride. I like that kind of production because it electrifies the music with a banshee voltage my speakers really enjoy wailing, but with a distinct nature you will find nowhere else because it is only from Ume.
The album's opening song, Rubicon, is fun worth crossing to hear twice again. It's a fast, heavy entrance that serves to introduce a talent that must be recognized if you like new and original rock. The vocals, courtesy of front-woman Lauren Larson, possess a simple beauty backed up by goth echoes and an underlying dark that reminded me of Berlin or even Sonic Youth.
Burst, the second track, drops down a gear to let you catch up. Now you can really let your ears drink in Larson's sweet sounds, but the track also lets you hear drums that know what they're doing and guitars that hook like Ali and slash like Wolverine, depending on what the melody requires. Veterans of the Austin, Texas music scene, you can tell Ume has performed in the darkest of places, and has the skills to prove it.
Ok, I'm gushing, but I'm in love with the music so I'm going to enjoy the rush. Ume is indie rock, and that live energy so integral to the genre is there, but if you are down for Generation X music like Love and Rockets or the more punk-infused concoctions served up by Souxie and the Banshees you won't be disappointed, either.
This is a single from Phantoms, courtesy of YouTube, where all hyperlinks seem to go. Bob Segar once wrote that rock and roll never forgets, and you will certainly remember this one. I liked "Destroyer" because it embodied a lot of what I like about Ume, so if you are into kickass modern indie rock here's something new for you.