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Sama Dams

Sama Dams 'Comfort in Doubt'

Boldly striking out into the gray terrain of potential copyright infringement is local avant-indie act Sama Dams. However, if it comes down to it they have a good shot of sidestepping the issue, not only because the inventive post-rock pearls they compose could make even the most protective Samuel Adams employee raise their pint glass in repect, but also one of the dudes in the band is legitimately named Sam Adams.

Sama Dams’s new release, titled Comfort In Doubt, is a testament to what the band is capable of when bandmates Lisa Adams and Chris Hermsen unite with Sam and displace that sneaky ‘A.’ CID showcases the band’s incisive awareness of compositional, rhythmic, and tonal elements, and their execution situates them among bands such as the Dirty Projectors or St. Vincent. These mavericks of their genre share a common mindset in their attempts to push the boundaries of alternative music, shoving off from the cruise liner that alt-rock has become in their tiny musical dinghy, with just their unorthodox sensibilities to guide them through a turbulent and unforgiving seascape of creativity.

That was dramatic. But seriously, Sama Dams certainly does deliver some refreshingly unpredictable musical tasties that’ll knock that Big Data song out of your sorry head. CID starts with “My Ears Are Ringing,” a tune illustrative of the band’s typical sound. It begins with sustained vocal harmonies (a la Dirty Projectors) between Sam and Lisa before Sam takes us aside to tell us the verse. His dry-throated, emotive voice falls somewhere between Dan Auerbach and Nate Reuss (that will be the only Fun. reference in this article thankfully), and fluctuates seamlessly between loud and soft, high and low, passionate and aloof. The instrumentation is sparse, syncopated, and can seem disjointed at times--but in the most musical way of course. The drums seem to do everything in their power not to intrude on the delicate magic at play between vocals and guitar, making themselves as spare as possible. Near the end of the song, a fuzzed out guitar tumbles out onto the musical canvas and screams through a solo that moves between melody and atonal noise. It’s like a noise solo you would hear coming from the likes of Billy Corgan, but with an emphasis on the noise. Not to disparage Sam’s guitar playing… we just can’t all be Billy Corgan, you’ll understand.

Throughout the album you will see these motifs arise--the jagged vs smooth textures, disjointed and sparse instrumental punctuation, the anything-but-a-standard-rock-beat drums, the noisy solos--along with some other surprises including a few startlingly pop sensible melodies (chorus of “Maggie” or “Ton Weight Down”), which stand as beacons through the avant-haze. If you have an ear for bands that gracefully break the mould of indie, are sick of hearing standard bom-ts-kah (to use a technical term) drum beats, or just want to put another feather in your esotericist cap, Comfort In Doubt is worth a spin. 

Catch Sama Dams live Wednesday, December 17 at the Doug Fir Lounge for their official hometown release of Comfort in Doubt along with the support of psych pop savants Grandparents and dream pop charmers WL.

- Bryce Woodcock


Sama Dams and Hands In at Bunk Bar 8.28

Thursday night marks your last chance to catch the explosive live performance of avant indie rockers Sama Dams until the release of their long awaited third album in December. Via Fartbook the trio hinted that they plan to make the show a special one, and if any of their past shows serve as a variable of measure for an "un-special" performance (if that is even a possibility for them), then Thursday night should indeed be a magnificant spectacle. Sharing the stage with them at Bunk Bar are Zula, an experimental pop quartet from Brooklyn, NY, and Hands In, perhaps Portlands most irresistibly dancable one man act. $6 in advance or $8 at the door, the show starts at 9. 

- Travis Leipzig


PALS FEST 2014 Announcement Show + Fundraiser

Back for it's third year of madness, PALS FEST 2014 will take place August 9th through 17th. The festival serves up a week of debauchery, hosting shows every night of the week at different venues across town featuring the best of Portland music, then culminates in a weekend-long party at PALS Clubhouse featuring the same bands from the previous week but packed into an intimate cul-de-sac and backyard setting. 

Still interested? The lineup for PALS FEST 2014 will be announced TONIGHT at the Firkin Tavern! The announcement will be celebrated by live solo performances and a ridiculous drunken krautrock jam session by members of Sama Dams, Old Age, Noble Firs, The We Shared Milk and The Domestics. The announcement party will also serve as a fundraiser for the show to help pay for bands, permits, port-o-johns, etc. There will also be an auction with proceeds going to PALS FEST, with items including: a famed and signed photo of Talkative (shot by Todd Walberg), Banana Stand Media swag, Rigsketball swag, various local band merch, AND a free pizza! Party on dudes!

- Travis Leipzig

Live Review: Radiation City and Friends 5.21

When awesome local bands are friends, powerhouse bills can come together like the one that took place at the Doug Fir Lounge last Wednesday night. Featuring Radiaton City, Sama Dams, and Wishyunu, it was an overall sexy lineup. During Rad City’s set, singer Lizzy Ellison even admitted they try to make songs you’d want to have sex to. 

Wishyunu opened to a pretty solid Wednesday night crowd, playing their loop-heavy electronic pop/rock. All set long smooth and beautiful vocals swirl over the hard-hitting drums. It’s always wonderful to hear how dynamic the duo is with layering and peeling back sounds throughout their songs.

Sama Dams’ set revels in the chaos and noise--bits of soul and pop mashed in with the ever-present math rock. Their powerful vocals, intricate beats, and heavily featured organ remind me of a gospel inspired version of Radiohead or maybe Dirty Projectors.

By the time Radiation City took the stage, Doug Fir was packed. A crowd full of eager fans cheered as the band opened up with a familiar tune from 2012's Cool Nightmares. While there were plenty of jams everyone could sing along to, the band also debuted a handful of brand new soul-packed swing/pop songs from the new album they’re currently recording. Think modern, sexy James Bond theme-songs, where classic groove meets sexy futuristic synth sounds. I hope we can all find the time to get laid listening to Rad City's new album once it's out, it’ll be the right thing to do. Also, shout out to drummer Randy Bemrose, who played despite having a broken elbow, wearing a sling and all. You couldn’t tell from listening to the set.

- Chandler Strutz

In Review: Party Boyz Anniversary with Genders, And And And, and Sama Dams

Last Tuesday night, Portland music podcasters, Party Boyz, hosted one hell of an event at Bunk Bar. The night marked the one year anniversary for the podcast, as well as the release of their first printed Zine and first compilation album on compact disc. The Zines looked great and featured content by local artists and musicians. Wearing handmade, screenprinted covers, the compilations feature bands that have been guests on the podcast during it's first year, including some unreleased tracks by a few artists. To help celebrate this great night, the girls of Party Boyz gathered three portland powerhouses, Genders, And And And, and Sama Dams, to play some rock 'n roll. Here's a brief recap. 

opening the night, Sama Dams awed the crowd with their sheer musical virtuosity, featuring intricate drum rhythms, haunting and bassy organ chops, and beautiful almost seizure-like guitar soloing. Switching between playing his guitar, bass and keys, Sam played some of the most shredding synthesizer solos I've ever heard.


Up next was And And And, who were in full partyboy rock mode. Drummer Bim Ditson's shirt came off right away per usual, Bassist Jonathan Sallas was fed beer during a song, beehive guitarist Berg sported a rocker's spike bracelet, and Nathan sang his heart out. The energy was static in the packed room, and the boys played flawlessly. 


Genders closed down the night with their brilliant shoegaze garage pop. Their rhythm section alone amazes me to the point of jealousy, but with Stephen's excellent guitar tone and styling and Maggie's gentle voice and knack for songwriting, it's no surprise why they are one of Portland's favorite bands. 


- Travis Leipzig


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