Stem Cells started in 2013 with four high school students from Sioux Falls, SD. The band apparently focused on punk while blending their own influences until 2015 when they started to incorporate elements of indie and emo. The band released Yer Not My Dad which is a complete DIY project. There is a good amount of diversity and there were some songs and moments along the way which I found very engaging.
They display their technicality right off the bat with “PTSD” which deviates from 4/4 timing. I loved the math rock type energy which had a jarring feel in a similar way to Minutemen. I suppose you could say “Mangos” had a little more of an overt emo vibe. “Kahuna” starts off sounding somewhere between spaghetti western inspired music and ’90s ska. It’s a fun song which seems to be about a remedial job that you don’t want to be at.
“Braindead” was the next song that roped me in. The lead guitar line is slick. On that note the whole band kills it on this song. “Morphine” definitely felt like punk to me. It’s fast and loud. I could say the same thing about “8x10” which has a couple of interesting chaotic breaks. “Fear” is melodic and arguably the most emotionally resonant song on the album. They bring up the energy with “Concerto for Cello” and close strong with “The Greatest House Ever Built.”
The album has the vibe of a couple young dudes in their early 20’s from the lyrics to the manic energy. One thing I will say is I don’t remember high school bands where I went to school being close to this technical talented in the ’90s. I couldn’t imagine Stem Cells not playing every other party in the area.
The album was DIY and really well done for the most part. There are a couple of things like a buzzing guitar and a snare sound that wasn’t quite there that a pro studio worth their salt would have fixed.
Overall, I think this was a really good album in a number of ways. I hope these guys stick with it and we hear more soon.
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