The Selmanaires are an Atlanta trio who've been
around for a couple of years. For a good long time, I didn't
see them live as I thought the band name suggested a vaguely
old school country-western sound. But I finally gave into my
curiosity, and was richly rewarded. Now The Selmanaires have
released their first full length, Here Come,
on local label International Hits Records. And they make a
good overall showing, with a nicely balanced recording that
showcases the varying sounds of this band.
Opening track Selmanaire Rock consists of falsetto,
almost disco-ish vocals over the dominating bass of Tommy Chung.
At the same time, drummer Herb Harris adds in cymbal heavy
drumming behind the simple, straightforward guitar melody played
by his twin brother and guitarist Jason Harris. Taken together,
it's easy to see why many people think of The Selmanaires as
a dance-punk band. Yet it is the second track, All I Really
Want to Know, which I tend to think of as The Selmanaires'
signature track. With heavily echoed guitars and doubled vocals,
the band combines a retro feel with New Wave drumming and deep
bass to create a sound that owes a debt to both Gang
of Four and Bobby Fuller. Add to this an infectious round of "ba ba
ba" and this track is one of the best on the album.
Things speed along with Images, which features multiple
vocal harmonies against a happily thudding bass and some swinging
drums. It's a fun little song that is over too soon at just
under 3 minutes. Let's Go There returns back to a dancey,
bass-driven sound. On this one, the vocals have a clipped,
electroclash edge which sounds just right against the harder
guitar riff and cymbal laden drums. Likewise, In the Direction
of Yes begins again with Chung's prominent bass. Some
oddly spoken vocals come in, alternating with a falsetto reminiscent
of the first track. Eventually, the rest of the instruments
chime in, but the bass and vocals remain the focal point of
the song as it builds to a soaring conclusion.
During the last half of Here Come, the band
begins to play with a variety of different styles. For example, Devil's
Sky features a simple guitar riff over what appear to be
bongos. It reminds me a bit of the moodiness of Big
as the instruments add reverb against the occasional odd percussion
and eventually swell into a wave of sound which shatters into
a strange musical fragment containing flutes. Then Cerulean
Sky begins, and I am immediately reminded of The Byrds,
or perhaps one of the recent 60s pop influenced bands. This
song is filled with a summery airiness, completed by soothing
harmonies and an extra jangly guitar.
The music returns back to a type of retro angularity with LMNO6, a fast paced track that sounds more punkabilly than dance. Featuring Harris's frenetic guitar riffs, the song has a stand up bass backing and some quick-paced drumming. This sound totally works for The Selmanaires, and you can pictures audiences dancing to it.
After the only moderately interesting latin-flavored, lounge-y High Tide,
the album ends with Turns to Stone. The song begins slowly as the vocals
are backed with minimal drumming and some quiet bass tones. As the verse ends,
the music becomes both quick and loud, then the guitar bursts in. The band
then alternates between the two tones, until they eventually build to a transition
which melds the two parts together. And on that high note, at 30 minutes total
running time, the album is done.
Here Come is an interesting amalgamation of different musical
sounds. The earliest part of the album seems to be a close reflection of The
Selmanaires' live shows, while the latter part is more of a grab bag of tracks.
Still, with solid musicianship and unique ways of putting together songs, The
Selmanaires show a lot of talent, which is clearly demonstrated on Here
Come. And it also makes it easy to understand why this band has such
a good buzz in Atlanta.