A friend e-mailed me a few days ago, hinting that I should write about more local bands in Nothing Not New. Though I've written about Authority Zero and Eyes Set to Kill (and I will be writing about the new Jimmy Eat World record tomorrow, probably), those acts are national bands by this point. It's true that I've mostly avoided writing about local bands, because I figured that's what Michael Lopez's You Asked for It feature is for, and that's really the purview of someone who considers himself a critic, like my editor, Martin Cizmar.
So in the e-mail, the guy attached the new EP by Phoenix quartet Snake! Snake! Snakes!, a band that colleague Jason P. Woodbury profiled in the August 5 issue of New Times. Though I'm hesitant to write about the locals, everyone seems to be talking about this band (playing tonight at the Rhythm Room, incidentally), so I might as well add my two cents.
This five-song EP reveals a real solid band, one probably destined to achieve a level of national success that the vast majority of local bands will not enjoy. The passionate performance on the EP shows off a confidence in the material that you don't often see in first recordings. It sounds as though the band's been together for years and years, but the current lineup is relatively new.
The songwriting is good, if not terribly original. It's late-2000s indie rock with a capital "I." These guys are clearly tapping into the widespread love for the Walkmen and, especially, Arcade Fire, an influence they unabashedly wear on their sleeve. Why not? AF is huge and getting huger by the day. S!S!S! does a damn approximation of AF, with sing-from-the-mountaintop choruses and the sort of let-the-listener-in kind of songwriting that few bands can actually pull off.
Seems to me, S!S!S! has enough big hooks, musical chops, and ability to rock out when they need to and pull back when needed to go somewhere bigger than the local indie-rock scene. Perhaps the biggest drawback of S!S!S! is the name. I can't think of a local band that has suffers a higher talent-to-name ratio. The way I see it, you want 1:1 ratio, where talent and band name are suited to each other. I'd say Triple S!'s ratio is about 10:1 -- tons of talent and long-term promise, absolutely miserable band name. Please, Modern Art Records, make the boys change it.
Best song: The driving, moody "We Come Out at Night"
Deja vu: The crowd tonight at Rhythm Room: Stand there and look serious.
I'd rather listen to: Hot Snakes or Deadly Snakes would do.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment