Lauren Records has announced Plastic Western, the debut LP from SAME, and unveiled the first single titled “It’s Lonely in Doggy Hell”.
“It’s Lonely in Doggie Hell” Spotify / Apple Music / Bandcamp
From the first crackling notes of “It’s Lonely in Doggy Hell,” the opening track of SAME’s debut LP Plastic Western, the band locks into a groove that never really lets up. A quiet riff fades in from a distance then, like a radio tuning to find the right frequency, it’s quickly interrupted by a brief drum fill before a fuzz-filled bass line sets the tempo, intertwining over a languid beat. Just like that SAME sets off on a 12-song journey. But Plastic Western isn’t a sprint toward a finish line, it’s an album that takes its time to hang out, get cozy, and soak in all the weird sights.
It’s easy to play the influence game for SAME. At times, Plastic Western might sound like Weezer dripping in acid and fuzz. At other times, it feels like listening to the Pixies or Pavement in a meditative trance. But SAME—bassist/vocalist Jesse Caggiano, drummer Jamie Gruzinski, and guitarists Tom Higgins and Jake Stern—never wanted to sound like any other band.
“Originality and experimentation are things we talked about a lot early on—and still do,” says Higgins. He concedes that the “core influences do shine through,” but from the band’s earliest practices, there was a shared drive to push themselves to make music outside of any sort of box. “We didn’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into making a certain kind of music,” he adds. “A lot of people make a band and say ‘We want our band to sound like this other band that we like.’ We had all done that before. We wanted to actively stay away from that mindset.”
SAME met each other sometime during their college years in the early 2010s, while attending shows in the Western Pennsylvania DIY punk scene. Born out of the ashes of a previous band that Caggiano, Higgins and Stern played in, SAME formally came together around 2015. For nearly a year, before the band released any music or played any shows, they wrote song after song, trying out different musical ideas until they honed in on a sound that clicked. “We spend a lot of time talking together about music, analyzing what we like or don’t like and why,” Higgins says.
A full-length LP was the original goal for SAME’s first release, but that eventually turned into two EPS—2016’s Weird as Hell and 2018’s Forgot to Say ‘Action’—as the band continued to tinker with its sound. “We are all into pretty different music, but we are on the same page in terms of how we want to approach writing,” Higgins says of the band’s songwriting process. Once the band locked into a sound that felt right, it was off to the races to record their first LP. That is until Stern broke his wrist in a skateboarding accident weeks before SAME was set to hit the studio. As a result, the band pushed back their recording date and used the time to write more songs and tinker even more with their sound, adding keys and electronic elements to the mix. “Jake breaking his wrist probably made the record better than it would’ve been,” Higgins says. “It dramatically changed our sound. We had talked about adding keys before, but since we had extra time and Jake only had one useful arm the opportunity forced itself on us.”
It’s a sound marked by rich reverb, bursts of jangly slacker-pop precision, and a keen ear for experimentation—especially on Plastic Western’s lush instrumental title track. From the lazy meanderings of “Landlady” and “¿Cómo está la serenidad?” to more driving tracks like “Shoot It” and “Cherry Pull ’N Peel,” each song on Plastic Western sets off in compelling and, sometimes, unexpected directions. In each song Caggiano’s lyrics paint abstract images that cast an ethereal tinge over the music. “You can either paint a picture of a sailboat, and everytime you see it it’s always going to be a sailboat, or you can create an abstract painting that shows you something new every time you look at it,” he says of his lyrics. “I try to do the latter. The lyrics have references to real things and real experiences, but there’s room left for the listeners imagination.”
Plastic Western comes out on May 8th 2020.