Formed just last year, Carpinteria, CA four-piece Souvenirs
has been picked up by 6131 Records and just as quickly put down an early marker with a five-track EP, Tired Of Defending You
. It’s hardly a surprise then to see any young band hoovering up a full bag of influences when cutting its first proper recordings, and in this case you’ll find echoes of 90’s emo bands like Braid, The Promise Ring, and Mineral, along with a smattering of Pavement, Jimmy Eat World, and Nirvana. Despite all that, there’s an underlying rawness to the sound of Souvenirs that comes as much from Tim Riley’s nerve-touching vocal as from the angry bursts of guitar, driving bass, and cymbal rich percussion. Producer Jack Shirley is sparing with the studio gloss, so what you get is very much a live sound.
The songs mix up varied rhythms with quiet melodies, everything morphing into crashing chords, loud sections alternating with calmer phases. “Port Authority” opens things with a snatch of backwards guitar, leading into a 30-second soft guitar build, itself a bit of a luxury for such a brief song. “Sucker” has a more conventional structure, yet it plays around with tempos. Lyrically, Riley bewails the fickleness of relationships: “I don’t know you, ’cause you don’t know yourself.” The most accessible song here is “Sinker”, built on a meandering bass riff set against contrastingly pointed percussive beats. The guitar lines are wrenched out amid a sea of youthful sorrow.
Distended guitar defines much of the record, and it is much to the fore on the two remaining tracks: “Mary’s Friends” and “How to Sleep”. The former’s quiet build doesn’t prepare you for the venom that follows, the song trying to pack too many ideas together in less than three minutes to really convince. The latter, by contrast, is developed more fully than its predecessors, with Riley sounding like an angst-ridden Brandon Flowers as he pleads, “I tried my best with you,” over impressive angular guitar work with Vincent Amador. Overall, this is a bright first offering from a young band with much promise.
Essential Tracks: “Sinker”