Amateur Round Up Music Reviews

December Amateur Round-Up

ProgSnobs welcomes all musical acts to submit their music for review. However,  it may be impossible to do a full-length review and not all bands are able to send a compact disc, our preferred way to listen to new material. Once a month, if enough material comes through, ProgSnobs will publish an Amateur Round-Up with brief reviews of albums or material submitted by unsigned bands or artists who provide us with streaming or downloadable content.

Ben Sommer – america’d

There is no subtly to Ben Sommer’s self-released america’d and the first song “Adult Children” sums up much of Sommer’s ideals. Although rather shrewdly mixed and produced, america’d has the energy and humor to carry itself through the album. The compositions are relatively simple but the lyrics support the edginess that Sommer’s website describes the albums as.

The angst in the songs is apparent, but the songs happen to feel repetitive as the album progresses, although the lyrics do continue to have a humorous melody throughout (“Little Hitlers” is a standout track). The mix allows all the instruments to be well heard, however it is only the vocals that have the dynamic range (a compliment indeed), the rest of the instruments feel pushed back.

The Zappa influence is apparent but Ben Sommer’s material is solely original, and the DIY mentality keeps the ideals consistent allowing the album to maintain its lyrical integrity. With time, Ben Sommer and his angsty political prog rock could prove to be a sleeper cult act. You can listen to Ben Sommer’s america’d for free or purchase the songs individually or as an album.

Swim The Mind – Waterfall Walls

Waterfall Walls suffers from being too much like Tool and not enough like Swim The Mind, whatever that may actually sound like. There is no uniqueness to any of the tracks on Swim The Mind’s self-release, available solely on their website. The continuous drone of the songs becomes repetitive far too easily and the material never seems to be press the boundaries at all.

Despite the lack of originality, the album is well mixed and the individual toms and snare have distinct tonal differences, a change from many digital releases where even the largest drum set sounds like as if there was one tom.

Perhaps I’m missing something here, the band’s Facebook page boasts over 10,000+ ‘likes’. There is definitely some decent musicianship with Swim The Mind, but with every song having so much similarity, what’s the point of a full-length release?

Have an EP or full-length album you’d like reviewed? Contact us and we’ll certainly consider it for our end-of-month Amateur Round-Up.