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Good Problems

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Audio CD, March 8, 2010
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Product Details

1. Two Hearted River
2. Shallow Water People
3. Broken Bones
4. The Other Side
5. For Giving In
6. Good Problems
7. Glossy-Eyed
8. See Ya Later, Wouldn't Want To Be You
9. Balcony
10. The Sun Was Up And It Came In Through The Window
11. Great Northern Diver
12. Two Truths
13. Curtained Rain

Editorial Reviews


Summer People is what happens when you re raised on a steady diet of Cro-Mags,Neil Young, Jane s Addiction, Sunny Day Real Estate, and k.d. lang. I don t know where these guys come from, and in fact I don t know who the guys are, since this octet (that means eight people) use new names in every article and interview. But what these guys create on Good Problems (Red Leader) are the kind of rock band I love to listen to when discovered, as they combine solid punk-influenced rock, a hint of hard rock, with country, folk, and pop tendencies rolled in with a progressive sense where they explore the delicate side of their musical abdomen and acknowledge the obesity that surrounds it. If Radiohead or The Flaming Lips were the band that made Exile On Main Street while hanging out with Built To Spill, who just bought a Buck Owens box set, you d get this. What I find great is that they have all of these genres going on and they perform each one with equal passion, not one is a joke or half-a##ed. If Pearl Jam didn t exist, this would be the band that would ve backed up Neil Young at the Video Music Awards way back when. I love how technology makes these songs distant yet year, and how the natural vibe of it makes it feel like this could ve been recorded in your back yard. Good Problems is an album that tends to dwell on the gray skies of life, pulls it out for full exploitation, only to cut it at its feet and move on. A song like Good Problems begins with just drums and vocals, and it sounds like it could turn into aRage Against The Machine rally call, only for it to cut itself short and go into aWilco-type guitar melody ( Glossy-Eyed ). Broken Bones has a rhythmic section that brings to mind what +Live+ were about when they first made it to the surface.Even with the metaphorical gray skies that may lurk, there s optimism that makes these songs something you ll want to hear from start to finish, and Good Problems an album that you ll want to tell everyone about so they can experience what you did, from start to finish.

Summer People is a new-ish band from the Binghamton/Syracuse area of New York, with members of Fire When Ready, Mysterious Mysteries and the Trip Wilsons. In some ways, their second release and first full-length, Good Problems takes from the styles of each of their previous efforts: melodic punk rock; ambient indie folk; and psychedelic rock 'n roll, respectively. But ultimately, their sound is something new and fresh for both its members and their fans. First up is Two Hearted River, a folk sing-along that's a bit moody but with lots of cheering and group vocals going on. This atmosphere is soon replaced by the melancholic urgency of the next track, Shallow Water People. A definite standout of the album and my personal favourite, this song seems to be Summer People at their most focused. With vocal work sort of resembling that of the late, great Bear vs. Shark, percussion that recalls the end of Hot Water Music s Hit and Miss and wonderful, warm guitar work throughout, it just kicks some serious ass. The next song, Broken Bones is a loud and intense but very fun rock 'n roller that sounds like Colour Revolt would if they embraced their inner hillbilly. After this we break on through to The Other Side, which returns to the laid-back sound of the album s opener for perhaps a nice break from all the rockin . Song number five, For Giving In is a welcome surprise, being the first to incorporate the dreamy post-rock sound that makes up most of the last half of the album. It s followed up by the 50-second-long title track, with cool lyrics and kind of a Tim Barry over noisy rock thing going on. Ending the first chunk of the record is Glossy-Eyed, another favourite of mine that brings together all the styles shown so far in a nice package. At this point is where Good Problems might begin to lose people. In the middle of the album sits a 9:41-long instrumental post-rock track that, while appreciated for what it is, is probably going to be skipped by a lot of listeners after the first time just doesn't really go anywhere. Next up is Balcony, a good but not great song still dwelling on the post-rock side of things but with vocals, followed by an instrumental track much shorter than that other one and more interesting to listen to. Then comes my personal third favourite song on the album, Great Northern Driver, which like Glossy-Eyed shows off a lot of what Summer People is about all at once. Next we have our first surprise in a while and final one at that, Two Truths, which consists of a first half that kind of reminds me of U2 (but probably shouldn't) and an explosive instrumental second half. And finally there is Curtained Rain, a short, dreamy male/female duet with synthesized or sampled sounds swirling around some acoustic strumming, closing out the album nicely. All in all, Summer People s debut full-length is an interesting and varied listen, despite the inclusion of an almost 10-minute-long interlude and the last half of the album kind of blending together. Part of me hopes their next effort is more focused and sounds more like the louder tracks overall, but another part appreciates the band s ability to traverse so many different landscapes, as parts of the more post-rock songs are really great. I think they definitely had it right with the way the first half was set up, so maybe if they maintain that frequency of style-jumping throughout their followup, they will release an even better album the next time around.

Product Description

Perhaps purposely cryptic, Summer People is a collection of 8 musicians from the northern parts of New York state, some of which played in Fire When Ready, Mysterious Mysteries, and the Trip Wilsons. Beyond that, Summer People is shrouded in mystery, only releasing first names of band members with the most minimal amount of information about 'Good Information'. Well, what they lack in information they make up for with their music- a very interesting hybrid of indie rock that encompasses ambient noise, loud rockers, or even back to basic stripped down pop songs and takes nods at classic rock, southern rock, counry and experimental. With 8 members, Summer People play with the intricacy you would expect from so many instruments utilized at once, but there just as likely to sound about as sparse as possible on the next track. The amount of influences you'll hear on this disc is astonishing, everything from Sonic Youth to Fugazi to The Rolling Stones. At different parts of this disc I am reminded of later period Radiohead, Modest Mouse in their more delicate moments and even Bright Eyes in the stripped down portions. However, Summer People truly do defy comparison; this really does sound like a different band from track to track, a grab bag of indie rock goodness. 'Good Problems' opens up with bird chirps and hand clapping, and the surprises don't stop there. There is truly something for everyone here as eclectic would be seriously understating this body of work. Oh, and don't let the fact that it was recorded live deter you from giving this a listen; you would never know it had no overdubs or studio enhancement- it is that remarkable.

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