Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam – Life Stream
Record Label: Full of Joy Records
Release Date: May 3rd, 2010
There was a weird type of music from back when my favorite television show was Beast Wars called Shoegaze. Its premise was music by a bunch of sadsack losers who drugged themselves just enough to leave the basement, but not enough to make eye contact with dudes let alone chicks in dude-ish flannel. The music was generally languid and long and full of emotion that we couldn’t get because it was too personal, man. But ugh, who needs that anymore when all we have to do to hear the sound of someone’s soul dying is stand a little too long outside of a gas station convenience store? So now we have a somewhat whimsical band like Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam and their new album Life Stream, which shares similarities with shoegaze, albeit with more blue skies and less wood-paneled depression. So I’m calling this band’s kinda post-rock, half folk, 3/8ths pop music sound SandalGaze!. (The exclamation point is part of the genre, not the end to that sentence, just, you know, FYI.)
And SandalGaze! is, as I expected when I named it, quite entrancing. But it’s not the sort of music you need to be peering out of a rain-soaked window to enjoy. Life Stream works best when you’ve opened said window or actually entered into the daylight. Since Tim and Sam’s ETC recall other airy British bands like Kyte or maybe Efterklang (if Efterklang is from England), they are able to cull from an audience ready to receive such sounds. But it's their use of triumphant horns, breathy communal singing and a relaxed Sunday afternoon vibe that help make Life Stream something special.
For you see, the problem with most instrumental-minded bands is that they almost always pick a tone that’s less than cheerful. Someone’s brooding about something and it’s up to this electric guitar to communicate their abyss of pain. So maybe Tim and Sam ETC are only great because they aren’t that. But most of me wants to believe that songs like xylophone-led “Choices” or woodwind-accented “Coming Home” are only great because they are great. Which is saying something, because the part of me that lives by cause and effect greatly outweighs the part of me that likes to visit animal shelters just to pet the orphans. If any criticism ever should be taken with a grain of kosher sea salt, please make it this. But again, if you let your carefree, have-fun-just-because side make a few decisions, you’ll find Life Stream to be an immensely pleasurable experience.
Recommended If You Like: Kyte, Efterklang, other stuff with emoticons