The four-piece band Scampi consisting of Will Morrow (guitar/vocals), Grant Shen (bass/guitar), Justin Adam (saxophone/guitar/vocals) and Sanchit Wadhawan (drums) is a young band that recently released a demo quality DIY effort entitled What Does That Even Mean? The songs are relatively straightforward alternative rock and at this point the band can’t compete with some of the music out there but do run into a number of inspired moments and a number of mishaps.
Truth be told the hardest thing to get past with this release is the recording quality. Some tunes sound decent while others have a laundry list of issues that hold back the songs in a number of ways.
The band kicks off with “Blinding Lights” which is a predictable rock song that lies somewhere between pop punk and alternative. Morrow has that nerdy emo-esque vocal delivery which works well with the music. The lyrics are the most notable aspect of the song as Morrow sings from a third person perspective. He sings, “He turns and runs for the door / His mind is thick for what the night has got in store / Lightning sparks and his instinct to fly / He's putting off his problems to wait for a sunlit sky.”
The second song “Dance to This” has a Franz Ferdinand flavor. Unfortunately the recording just doesn't hold up and is hard to feel viscerally enough to make you want to dance. As the album progresses the songs are hit and miss. I really enjoyed when they implemented the sax but it was often too buried underneath the distorted guitars and crash cymbals. The highlight was arguably the title track, which benefited from decent vocal harmonies and slick guitar playing. “Hear Yourself” has a bluesy vibe while the closer “On The Note” contains the most inspired sax playing on the album.
High school bands are ubiquitous and the fact is most of them break up when college rolls around. Will that be the fate for Scampi? Who knows but if not they really need to do two things if they want to have a real chance at this music thing. They have to befriend an engineer or record at a professional studio if they hope to create an album that could really gain traction. The second thing is they are going to have to develop a sound that defines their band. I would say the majority of the songs are well written but nothing stands out that really gives the band a distinct flavor. The good news is most bands with members this young are usually in the same boat and actually usually have trouble writing songs even this good. I’d say Scampi has a little one up on their peers but will need to take it to the next level if they hope to be in the same level as notable indie rock bands.
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