The Samuel Jackson Five: Same Same, But Different

A powerful debut collection of seething instrumental rock (apparently recorded in a basement a few years ago) by Oslo, Norway quintet The Samuel Jackson Five (axe-meisters Sigmund Bade, Thomas Kaldhol, Thomas Meidell, Kjetil Gundersen, and drummer Stian Tangerud, plus guests Anders Kregnes and Magnus Nielson). Listening to Same Same, But Different, it's almost laughable to think that SJ5 was originally intended to be a drum'n'bass project, so completely different from that genre is the album's material. Though the group's able to rise to a tumultuous roar with ease (e.g., the ponderous weave of guitar and bass patterns that erupts in a detonation in “Locust Lowtalker”), it also hews carefully to the ample melodic twists and dynamic contrasts of its through-composed material.

“Counting Sheep” explodes from the gate by alternating torrential fireballs of jagged guitars and flailing drums with almost ridiculously simple piano episodes; it's the song's molten, multi-layered guitar playing that leaves the strongest impression, however. Every song offers a novel twist of one kind or another: the drumless “Honest Abe,” for one, which alternates anchoring bass lines with echoing volleys of guitar-fueled psychedelia, and “Sing Slow, Walk Fast,” for another, where the violent squeal of sci-fi synth warble somehow remains audible despite the presence of immolating guitar heat. Though the band's “post-rock” attack isn't radically original, it's hard not to champion a band that names itself The Samuel Jackson Five and titles its clamorous freakout closer “Britney Spears 4 President.”

September 2008