Friday, December 29, 2006

AM – Troubled Times

AM – Troubled Times

So I was on my way into work, or what passes for it these days, and I was listening to XM 75, which happens to be HEAR Music: The Sounds of Starbucks. Say what you may about their painfully overpriced and pretentiously named coffee, but they do occasionally have good taste in music…and a nice Green Tea Latte. Anyway, the point of all this is that I heard a song I hadn’t heard before, which for me really isn’t a surprise as my musical radio time rivals that of my exercise schedule. The song was City Syndrome and the artist was AM. I liked it so much that I called my voicemail and left myself a message to look it up. I did…and here’s what I found.

AM, the guy, is from Oklahoma. He spent his teens in Louisiana, played guitar, went to Loyola and started writing songs in college. He won best Singer / Songwriter in 2005 from the Los Angeles Weekly Music Awards and has had his music placed in quite a few television shows and films. AM, the guy and his band, are now from Los Angeles and feature AM on vocals and acoustic guitar, Mark Getten on the bass, Geoff Pearlman on electric guitar and background vocals, Mike Mangan on keyboards, Bryan Head on the drums and Chris Lovejoy rounding things out on percussion. In 2005, AM released an EP of remixes of their song Mainstay and 2006 saw the release of their full length album, Troubled Times.

As it turns out, Troubled Times, the album containing my morning drive time epiphany, is a really good disc. It’s got a smooth vibe and is full of melody, with catchy hooks and unpretentious lyrics. My overall impression of the album is very clean and very cool. Full of acoustic and clean sounding electric guitars, Troubled Times showcases AM’s vocals in a band setting with dirty electric guitars and keyboards reinforcing the rhythm section, but never overpowering it.

Some of the most interesting things for me about Troubled Times were the recorded tracks themselves. I found little parts of the instrumental tracks to be like aural “Easter Eggs” similar to the hidden features you would find on a DVD. Let me give you a couple of examples. On the album’s opening track, Gone Away, there’s a tambourine doused with echo and buried in the mix that just makes me think of a sixties kind of sound. Another happens on the track So Lonely. One of the guitars plays a quick up-pick that sends me back to pop music in the 80’s. There are more “hidden” parts on the album too, but for me those little things help take good tracks and just give them that much more of a push towards being something remarkable.

As far as Troubled Times is concerned, what you’re left with at the end of the day is a ten song album full of solid songs, solid writing and a name we’ll hopefully be hearing more from in the future.

(By the way, if your searching iTunes for AM, try searching for Troubled Times, it's easier to find.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review.