A 2002 demo garnered the attention of Carbondale, Illinois-based Wooden Man Records who released the band's self-titled debut album to a nationwide audience in 2004. Soon after Saababanks began touring to support the album, guitarist Eric Johnson's other band Brazil was picked up by Fearless Records. Saababanks was thusly put "on hold" for several years as Brazil rigorously toured the U.S. and Canada.
Brazil disbanded in 2008 and Saababanks was re-formed. The last few years have seen the band writing new material and playing shows throughout Indiana and the surrounding areas. Most recently, Saababanks has added a second guitarist, Aaron Smith (also a former Brazil member) to the lineup and are cutting their 2nd full-length album which is slated for independent release in mid-2011. Album Reviews: While they're not explicit about it, Saababanks is one big "f*** you, New York" in their self-titled debut disc. Hailing from Markleville, Indiana (which sounds disturbingly made-up) they leave the listener wondering how an album this good could come from such a place.
In any case, this band truly comes out of left field. While the city scenes inbreed, mate, and die, bands like Saababanks crank out pure brilliance in relative obscurity. While comparisons to June of 44 and the Jesus Lizard are inevitable, obvious, and partly accurate, Saababanks does so without the pretension of the former and the psychosis of the latter. "Relative Theory" is rock-solid and reminiscent of Therapy? only far better and more urgent.
Drummer Brand Smith is the sort of fellow that compels other drummers to practice a lot more. Nothing fancy here, but impeccably delivered. "Last Breath" is proof that this sort of music goes nowhere without a good bassline - and the Bob Weston tone certainly doesn't hurt either. "Inconstant Shape" is the other true standout on the album, as it showcases a band that understands dynamics very well.
The track maintains a slow boil throughout, which makes it all the more compelling. A dormant volcano is boring, and an erupting one is terrifying. But one on the verge of erupting is compelling. The disc contains a few drawn-out numbers ("Manifesto") that most likely come across very well live but aren't as powerful here.
Then again, it takes a special band to pull off a seven-minute slow-burn on their first album. Saababanks aren't quite there yet, but it's clear that they're on the way. And f*** New York too. > It would be predictable if Saababanks were to slip through the cracks without so much as a turned head.
The three-piece group from Markleville, IN, is featured on the micro independent Wooden Man Records, and sounds like the underappreciated Gauge, boasting influences like June of 44 and Shellac. All the elements add up to inevitable obscurity and Saababanks seems to thrive on the potential. With Saababanks, the group presents themselves, and their music, with very little image and even less glitzy bravado. The album artwork contains no lyrics or photographs, which is even more sparse than the band's website, which features a drawing of the trio and some basic information/credits.
From the start of "Relative Theory" to the end of "Manifesto," Saababanks is focused and to the point. There are no frilly riffs, no drawn-out solos and little dynamic building or deconstructing. The group finds their stride soon and often, as it only takes 15-30 seconds from the beginning of each song for a breakout of deep, distorted bass and Kevin J. Frank-like screaming.
Saababanks is also a constant showcase the group's solid timing. For anything with a common meter the trio is laid out into a fixed pocket, as tight and communicative as any well-versed jazz formations must be to create one whole sound. Stops and starts, accented punctuations and collective fills are what differentiates Saababanks from any other post-punk group from the Midwest. Some listeners will want to call this time aspect 'mathy,' but the defined characteristic speaks more as a credit to a thoughtful song creation.
Some moments of are more obviously driven by the fondness of Saababanks towards their predecessors. The effects noticeably spill over first during "Captain Mike," in which a repetitive bass line and drum pattern sound a little too much like Shellac's "Didn't We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are". If not for this similarity, the album comes off entirely as an original theme of hard-wrenched, composedly detailed post-punk efforts. Saababanks' future may seem somewhat predictable through their many surrounding underground-defining details, but this self-titled release throws the seemingly knowable to the wind in a 40-minute exploration of where the past can lead when few are paying attention.
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