Sam Sniper
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Sam Sniper

Athens, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Americana

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"Flagpole's 11 Favorite Athens Albums From 2011 (honorable mention)"

Music Feature
Flagpole's 11 Favorite Athens Albums From 2011
In No Particular Order...

Minima Moralia by Tunabunny

This album snagged the band its first substantial national and international coverage, created a sizable buzz at this year's CMJ Music Marathon and will catapult the band into its first tour of the U.K. in February. And it's a devil, because careful, sustained, repeated and observant listening–the kind that goes deeper than the easy touchstones of noisy pop, post-punk influences and melodic vocals–reveals an album packed with pain, confusion, isolation, longing, grasping and gasping. Its certainty is wobbly and emerging. It holds a defiant stance, but with its fists in its pockets. It's a guitar album that has no heroes and, in a grand sense, no history. It's the biggest gulp of fresh air this year. [Gordon Lamb]






The Future Doesn't Need You by Gripe

It's so difficult to create a truly individual sound in the codified world of hardcore/power violence/grindcore. Even the bands that attempt to put their own spin on things generally submit to being the third version of much better known groups. Gripe is different. The band's first record of 2011, The Future Doesn't Need You, is the document that put Gripe on hardcore's map. The reaction from the underground press, which resides largely online these days, has been overwhelming. Gripe gave good reason to stop being an apologist for weaker bands simply because they were new, sounded familiar, had good intentions, etc. Significantly, though, there's never been the feeling from Gripe that they were putting out a challenge to anyone. The quality of the work was just such that it automatically became a thing to enjoy and envy. The band proved that if the creativity is there, then the rules are meaningless. Sure, hardcore and punk have always liked to say that there are no rules. Bullshit. There are tons of rules, and everyone knows them. And thank God for them, because they help keep stupid bands corralled. Gripe needs no walls. [GL]


Comfort by powerkompany

Powerkompany is a testament to the collaborative spirit, and the beautiful fruit it can bear. Husband and wife duo Marie Davon and Andrew Heaton put their heads together in creating this acoustic/electronic dream-pop project, and the results preserved on Comfort are by turns soul-stirring and heartbreaking. [David Fitzgerald]











Black Velvet by Madeline Adams

On this release, local treasure Madeline Adams explores more abstract lyrical territory while backed by the measured and thoughtful arrangements of her band. Once again Adams proves herself to be one this town's finest songwriters, with an album full of vivid stories and dynamic melodies featuring her captivating, deceptively sweet vocals and biting wit. [Michelle Gilzenrat]











People and Places by FLT RSK

2011 was a huge year for electronic music, and, thanks primarily to FLT RSK, Athens can claim a piece of that cultural shift. This chameleonic trio’s genre-quantum-leaping turned their debut album, People and Places, into a multifaceted tour de force. Creatively daring, unconscionably danceable and never, ever dull; don’t miss this FLT. [DF]












Better Things by Easter Island

Released in March this year, Better Things felt as light and sweet as the spring breeze, but its lovely tones feel even richer now as a soundtrack to the winter months. It shimmers like the Christmas lights wrapped around trees downtown, and it envelopes you like a plush down comforter. And that's true even on songs like "Into Bedrooms"; despite lyrics that threaten, "I could kill you, and I'd like to. I'd destroy you," the song still feels about as abrasive as a Snuggie. With dulcet piano tones, echoey guitars and the Payne brothers' gentle vocal vibrato, Easter Island makes some of the prettiest music to be found in town. [MG]





Have You Met Lera Lynn? by Lera Lynn

This was a huge year for Lera Lynn. Her song "Bobby, Baby" took first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest; she gained a dedicated local following that came out in droves to see her play both solo and with her band; her cover of TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me" got over 45,000 views on YouTube. And this record stands as both a bold introduction to her work and a testament to her growing potential. Lera Lynn writes country songs that are full of bluesy grit, but her vocals never get too twangy. Instead, they seduce with the breathy, smoky tones of a jazz singer. The pleasure is ours, Lera Lynn, and we look forwarding to meeting you again in the new year. [MG]







Breaks in the Armour by Crooked Fingers

This album's strongest attribute is its sincere directness. Eric Bachmann (Arches of Loaf) exhibits great restraint, reeling in his pop tendencies to create a stark yet beautifully nuanced collection of songs wrapped in ragged Americana and propelled by tension. The album was recorded locally with Matt Yelton at The Bakery, and I'm glad Bachmann decided to stick around so Athens can officially call Crooked Fingers its own. [MG]








Maybe These Are the Breaks by Masters of the Hemisphere

With Athens' greatest comeback record of the year, Masters of the Hemisphere return in fine form with their first release in nearly a decade. This record offers pure, unadulterated indie-pop bliss with bright, catchy melodies coated with just the right amount of sheen. The song structures often feel deceptively simple because the tunes are so fun and easygoing, but Masters' songwriting approach is more ambitious than ever. On Maybe These Are the Breaks the band traverses that signature Kindercore jangle-pop sound as well as acoustic ballads and even a little country folk, complete with steel guitars. [MG]







Oblangle Fizz, Y'all by Reptar

This Ben Allen-produced EP could never completely live up to the hype and high expectations of Reptar's rabid fanbase, but it certainly proved effective, nonetheless. The risk was that Reptar's own reputation would upstage the release: How could any recording compete with the Dionysian jubilation of the band's live gigs? It couldn't, but frankly, it didn't matter. Instead of trying to mimic the live experience, the EP revealed the nuanced arrangements and subtleties of Reptar's songwriting that sometimes get lost in all the costumes and confetti. Elements like Graham Ulicny's delightfully malleable vocals–at turns accented, exaggerated and playful–take center stage here. Occasionally the tunes get lost in their own ambition, ambling off in opposing directions, but even those imperfections showcase an underlying sense of adventurousness that will continue to propel the group forward. Reptar has not yet reached its peak, but it's on its way up fast. [MG]



Punch Drunk by Don Chambers + GOAT

"Like Tom Waits fronting a Southern rock band" seemed to be the critics' consensus on this one, and it's a winning combination that Chambers has perfected. It's a raunchy, heavy take on Southern Gothic that features Chambers' most visceral vocal performance to date. This album is gritty, sometimes sleazy, but always fierce. Or, as Bao Le-Huu wrote in his review for Flagpole in November, "Punch Drunk is a towering, swaggering triumph that's dizzyingly rich, dark as the night and unrelentingly massive." [MG]
Honorable Mention:

1. No Weight No Chain - Ruby Kendrick

2. Your God Is Dead to Me Now - Five Eight

3. Tournament - Manray

4. Hide the World - Dodd Ferrelle

5. Form a Sign - Grape Soda

6. Rise On Up and Melt - Efren

7. We're Not Coming Back This Way - Sam Sniper

8. Psychopomp - Kuroma

9. Castlebandia - Bit Brigade

10. Contenders - Ken Will Morton

11. Manifest Blasphemy - Yo Soybean
- Flagpole


"Record Reviews: Sam Sniper"

Flagpole
Record Reviews: Sam Sniper, We're Not Coming Back This Way

Sam Sniper

We're Not Coming Back This Way

Independent Release

Sam Sniper combines varied instrumentation and elaborate production on its ambitious—if at times uneven—debut. The songs encompass an impressive variety of styles, all fitting loosely under the alt-country umbrella.

Opener “Heart, Beat” begins with a wistful slide guitar gliding over drums culled from Beck's “The Golden Age.” This progresses to a rousing chorus with a two-part vocal harmony and dynamic rhythm reminiscent of My Morning Jacket. Here, as throughout on the record, the production is lush and full, with warm reverb and the faint twang of a ghostly mandolin or banjo hovering just within earshot.

The record's broad sweep includes occasional missteps. The studio effects sometimes go too far, as with the vocal echoes on the chorus of “Cancertowne,” which are as superfluous as the extra 'e' in the title. “This,” with its 1950s science documentary voiceover and laser show atmospherics, seems more parody than epic.

Thankfully, the artifice of “This” is followed by “Comfortable Hypocrisy,” which soars with unfeigned grandeur. The album's blemishes seem evidence of the band's willingness to experiment, and as such, they are welcome—the record is strong enough to accommodate them.

Marshall Yarbrough - Flagpole


"Upstart Roundup: Sam Sniper"

Flagpole
Upstart Roundup: Sam Sniper

Sam Sniper

Country-Funk

SAM SNIPER

Country-Funk

Lineup: Chris Barnett, Andrew Klein, Nick Mallis and Ryan Sedgwick. Shares members with: Yo Soybean. Influences: CSNY, The Band, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Wilco, Dr. Dog, MGMT, Blitzen Trapper.

In our feature on the Athens Americana Fest back in April, we asked local musicians to define "Americana"—and the answers were just as varied as the Fest's lineup. That sense of interconnected diversity also permeates Sam Sniper's debut album, We're Not Coming Back This Way. Just when you think you've got this band pegged, they nimbly change things up on you, shifting gears with deft grace.

Depending on what track you hear first, Sam Sniper might seem like a rootsy folk band—complete with plucked banjo notes and lonesome caterwauling—or maybe a soulful blues act with gospel-inspired organ. And then the pace picks up, the guitars start howling, and Sam Sniper is full-on Southern rock with country-fried twang and big, anthemic choruses. But the biggest surprise comes on songs like "Captain Boughman," when the red clay seems to fall away as synth and electronic loops descend from outer space… and all of a sudden that MGMT influence becomes strikingly apparent.

Yet, in spite of the band's eclectic nature, somehow it all sounds distinctively and cohesively like Sam Sniper. If there's one consistent thread running through this album, it's the band's undeniably strong sense of melody—an irresistible pop sensibility that hooks you tightly. The songwriting duo of Chris Barnett and Andrew Klein (both on guitar and vocals) makes up the core of Sam Sniper, but the group expands to include Yo Soybean's Nick Mallis on bass and Ryan Sedgwick on drums and harmonies for its live shows. Soak in all 14 tracks of heartland glory at www.samsniper.bandcamp.com.

Next show: Check Facebook for updates.

Michelle Gilzenrat - Flagpole


"Sam Sniper makes weirdo country"

Sam Sniper makes weirdo country
By Andre Gallantupdated Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 9:47pm

Alt-country used to mean something wild: a bunch of rowdy punks ramping up Woody Guthrie tunes or poking hotshots into Carter Family traditionalism. Over the years, as Jason and the Scorchers flamed out and Son Volt powered down, alt-country split into Southern rock revivalists and acoustic warblers putting English degrees to use. Technically, it’s an alternative to the mainstream drivel spewing out of Nashville via car radios and cable television.

Sam Sniper, an Athens band that formed just two years ago but cold-brewed for many years, presents an alternative to alt-country. Or a redefining of the qualifier.

Alternative, as in alternative rock, as in weird.

The band, comprising guitarists/singers Andrew Klein and Chris Barnett, bassist Nick Mallis and drummer Bill Bacon, grew out of a high school friendship that, after graduation, turned into a long distance recording project with Klein in Florida and Barnett in North Carolina. Half-recorded MP3s of song fragments arrived regularly in each other’s inbox.

Those e-mails would form much of Sam Sniper’s early live incarnation, featuring guitar, bass and a drum machine performing the band’s take on country music, and make up the bulk of their debut record.

“We were trying to be different,” said Barnett, but they realized a bit of streamlining might be helpful — a dedicated human drummer, for example. Still, their contrary approach made it onto their debut record, 2011 “We’re Not Coming Back This Way.”

Track by track, a heartfelt strummer gets mauled by distorted metal riffing then subdued by electronic beats and psychedelic ramble poems. An auto-tuned harmony sneaks its way into a smoky country tune. A pop song packs its wagon and deserts into a Deadwood-esque spooky tumbleweed instrumental.

Klein and Barnett admit the Sam Sniper style cleaves into comical and serious sides — whether a song is serious or not depends on how it was written. If Klein or Barnett pen the song solo, it’ll come out straight-faced and emotional. Together, out comes the snark.

“As much as I wish we were serious, we aren’t,” Klein said. Even on obviously somber tunes like “Heart, Beat,” the opening song on “We’re Not Coming Back This Way,” watching the songwriting partners emote through the tune, one can’t help but think their tongues are firmly in cheek.

The recording process, the band’s fifth member, promotes this bifurcation as well. Sam Sniper’s first record is packed mostly with songs written over many years.

The filler, though, was written as the band tracked the album, a process the band could have utilized only by recording at home.

The band tracked every digitally recorded moment of their debut in an Oglethorpe Avenue house, in a room, one can assume, not dissimilar from their current jam base near downtown Athens: squares of multi-color carpet foams — a cheapo sound barrier — tacked onto the walls like a Mondrian painting.

“To record something and sit on it for a month is priceless,” Barnett said. For financial reasons, of course, renting a studio doesn’t make sense. But the band’s haphazard recording style wouldn’t fly in such a setting either. “Recording takes forever because you second-guess yourself. I look back and say, ‘Why did we record that in a bathtub?’ That was stupid. From a fidelity standpoint, our album sounded good, but it could’ve sounded better. Eventually, you have to set deadlines. But because we recorded it ourselves, we got that satisfaction from it.”

By writing the new record — only two songs are finished — Klein and Barnett believe Sam Sniper (a name pulled out of the air) will hone its sound. The backlog of tunes is dry. It must be refilled. That means more collaboration.

“We realize we have to work together. We recognize each other’s skill set,” Klein said. “We seem to powerhouse through things when we work together.”
- Athens Banner-Herald


"Kaswala: Sam Sniper delivers weird take on traditional music"


By Satyam Kaswalapublished Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Country. Roots-rock. Folk. These are all signifiers we have come to associate with a certain time-honored purity, both sonic and spiritual. Working class heroes, travelin’ men, outlaws and loners alike have taken shelter in their dusty sounds. Saturday night at the 40 Watt Club, I saw a local band explore the rowdier, left-field side of country music known as “alt-country.”

Athens alt-country group Sam Sniper, comprising members of local folk rockers Yo Soybean, took the stage as two rows of people gathered in front. The band did about as good a job as it could feeding off the energy of the polite crowd.

Sam Sniper’s set reminded me that one of the most endearing features of country music of the 1950s and ’60s is the straight-faced, matter-of-fact manner in which the singers delivered their vocals. These singers stripped their voices of all musicality in favor of an expression that felt raw, ugly and true. Hank Williams sang “I’m so lonesome I could cry” like it was a fact he accepted, not a sentiment he could conquer. The most important word was “could.” He didn’t cry, because he wasn’t allowed to. The tears were in the syllables, grating and resigned, and the effect remains devastating.

Andrew Klein’s often withdrawn Southern drawl, which felt deeper and more resonant live than on the band’s debut album, “We’re Not Coming Back This Way,” reminded me of this tradition. The way his near-baritone grumbles weaved in and out of singer-guitarist Chris Barnett’s lighter, softer vocal stylings was a highlight. This was best displayed on “Captain Boughman,” a devilish country-rock tune that could soundcheck a 19th-century Midwestern duel. The song started with the two lone voices singing in harmony, but they couldn’t quite find each other. Klein took over vocal duties as a fuzzed-out guitar sprinted behind a shuffling drum beat, and by the time their voices met each other again during a final rousing, surprisingly hooky turn, the payoff was huge.

What kept Sam Sniper from drifting too much into staid, predictable alt-country territory were the shifts in intensity and volume throughout, precipitated by explosive, searing guitars that seemed to unleash out of nowhere.

The most earnest part of the show came during the mournful “Country Blue,” when Klein pleaded, “Don’t tell me about your father/Did he ever love your mother/before he found another?” But before the band could wallow in the sadness, and just when I expected a hushed, melancholic musical passage fitting that line, the song tumbled into an upbeat, ramshackle rock ’n’ roll groove, the guitar riffs suddenly becoming battle cries of resilience.

Inevitably, Sam Sniper lost some sonic detail and instrumentation when translating album cuts to the stage. But when a fellow concertgoer yelled “well done!” after last song and rustic rocker “Comfortable Hypocrisy,” it was hard to argue.

• Satyam Kaswala is an intern for OnlineAthens.com and the Athens Banner-Herald. Send email to satyam.kaswala@onlineathens.com.
- Athens Banner-Herald


"AthFest: Reptar, Yo Soybean, Sam Sniper, Vestibules"



AthFest: Reptar, Yo Soybean, Sam Sniper, Vestibules

Our writer accepts Reptar for who they are and eulogizes Vestibules

By David Fitzgerald

Thursday, June 28, 2012

#For anyone who, like me, was flabbergasted to see local celebutantes Reptar headlining the outdoor stage Friday, while critically-acclaimed national touring act Atlas Sound played second fiddle, the decision likely came down to pure crowd logistics. While Atlas Sound might be a more famous and more talented act, these days, nobody can touch Reptar in this town. In ten years of AthFests, I have never seen a crowd stretch half as far down Washington Street as the throng that Graham Ulicny and crew drew on AthFest’s opening night.

#Now, for me, the band’s frosh LP Body Faucet, released earlier this year, was a colossal disappointment. Remember how when Vampire Weekend first showed up, everybody started making comparisons to Paul Simon’s Graceland? Well, Body Faucet is to Vampire Weekend what Vampire Weekend was to Graceland, and while being a copy of a copy of something that happened in 1986 is a great way to be popular in 2012, it doesn’t bring a whole lot new to the table. Much to my pleasant surprise, the band delivered in a way that they haven’t in years. In truth, Reptar have taken a lot of shit and inspired a lot of naysayers since they’ve started to find more serious success (some of it deserved, but most of it motivated by jealousy and envy). The band followed a familiar, if unfortunate, path over the past few years, as they made their name on the strength of their raucous live shows and the pronounced influence of traditional African music on their Southern dance party sound; got signed; promptly tightened up as a unit; abandoned their wild stage antics for more precise instrumentation; and only now seem to have finally put it all back together.

#Combining their hard-won musical prowess and their old-school penchant for freaking the fuck out whilst they rock, Reptar came full circle and delivered one hell of a show. Wailing, thrashing, and crowd-surfing through nearly every track off of Body Faucet as well as a new song or two, for an hour and change, they absolutely owned the Classic City. This recap may feel like a backhanded compliment in paragraph form, and it kind of is—Reptar still has a lot of growing up to do before they reach their full potential—but I am speaking largely as one of the converted. This band has already gone farther and done more than any local act to crop up in my time in Athens, and the wide, Serengeti sky seems to actually be the limit. If they can get away from the people-pleasing pop sound that delighted scores of frat-hippies lined up from the 40 Watt to Copper Creek, and find a truer, more original voice, Reptar could be the next Animal Collective. Their ceiling is that high. But for now, their potential is enough, and I’m reasonably excited to hear what they do next.

#After the outdoor stage shut its lights off and the crowd dispersed, I shuffled into Flicker for a triple-threat lineup that would carry me until 1 a.m. First up was local troubadour Nick Mallis fronting his self-described “party folk” band Yo Soybean. Clearly influenced by early Dylan, but striking a more upbeat, sixties love-in tone, Mallis offered up piece after piece of his heart to us with his infectious tunes about lost love and new romance; false religions and travelin’ prayers; beauty, truth, and drinking heartily to both. His insanely infectious band—featuring a stunning violinist—called to mind acts like Pentangle, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, but with a decidedly more American flavor. They made it virtually impossible not to have a good time at their show, and what more can you ask of a band than that?

#Next on the Flicker docket was Sam Sniper (for whom Mallis plays guitar), a fast-rising alt-country act fronted by bare-chested, face-painted wild man Chris Barnett and co-founder/partner in crime Andrew Klein. Fusing hard rock to bangin’, twangin’ country with a rusty blowtorch, and hammering it out at a breakneck pace, these guys may have actually turned me around on the entire alt-country genre in a single show (a perfectly executed cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” was a particularly strong point in their favor). Their boisterous stage presence and thunderous, room-swallowing harmonies set Flicker ablaze like a summer wildfire, and they seemed ready to go another hour when their set ended. Sam Sniper exited the stage having given their all in their AthFest debut—and their all was pretty damn awesome.

#Closing out my night was Will Chamberlain’s tough-to-pin-down Vestibules, in their bittersweet final show. Chamberlain’s soul-crushing lyrics and massive but heartbreaking vocal presence have always defined this band, but every member was in fine form for their final bow. Falling somewhere between alt-country and grunge rock (though staking out largely original territory, in this critic’s opinion), the band’s sound is accented by Jake Wells’ bombastic tenor saxophone, Jenny Woodward (Like, Totally!, Woodworks) and Stephanie Davis’ tender harmonies, and Eric Johnson’s baleful lap steel.

#If Sam Sniper set Flicker on fire, then Vestibules burned it to the fucking ground, playing like it was not just their last show, but their last day on earth. Howlers like “Waitress from Montgomery” fit perfectly alongside wailers like “Honestly,” powerful songs harnessed through the un-harnessable power of their composer’s singular voice. Chamberlain once explained to me that he named his band Vestibules (not “The” Vestibules, mind you) because he thought of his songs as vestibules—glass houses in which to display the emotions he couldn’t express any other way (this was apparently the result of a misheard song lyric: “the heart is a risky fuel to burn” became, in his mind, “the heart is a vestibule to burn”)—and anyone who has ever seen him perform will come away seeing the truth in that idea.

#Will Chamberlain is as honest and genuine a rock star as I have ever met in this town—he ached, bled, cried and toiled for his music. He made enemies for it. He believed in it, and he made other people believe in it too, including me. Exhausted and wrung out, he closed the set, appropriately enough, with a song entitled “Almost Feels Like Goodbye,” but as that song’s final notes rang out, he looked at the audience with a twinkle in his eye and proclaimed “I think we’ve got time for one more.” With that impromptu encore in mind, we can only hope that Vestibules might have more in the tank as well, but regardless of whether they ever resurface or fade into hazy memory like so many other Athenian musical luminaries gone too soon, they will be remembered long after their time in the spotlight.
- Flagpole


"We're Not Coming Back This Way by: Sam Sniper"

(Self-Released)

The band Sam Sniper hails from Athens, Georgia. We're Not Coming Back This Way counts as the group's debut album. The band includes Andrew Klein (vocals, guitar, bass, banjo, piano, organ), Chris Barnett (vocals, bass, guitar, drums), Ryan Sedgwick (drums, djembe, percussion), Nicholas Mallis (bass, guitar), Stephanie Jean (vocals, violin) Jason Carrigean (bass) and T.K. Driskell (vocals). This collection was recorded at Loose Seal Studios in Athens. Klein and Barnett produced the sessions.

"Heart, Beat" opens the disc with a laid-back acoustic foundation. "Dragons"exists as an experimental instrumental followed by "Cancertowne" a spaghetti-western ditty. "When All of Our Sins Are Good", a banjo-laced number, sounds like some old Library of Congress recording. "Bitter Heart's Radio" stands out as the first song on this album that indicates Sam Sniper possess their own sound; this is a fine number, indeed.

Crickets set the tone for "This", a haunted Appalachian spoken word song. "Comfortable Hypocrisy" begins with a spooky intro, and then transcends into an unholy shamble of sound that dissolves into peaceful tranquility.

"My Home" turns out to be a great psychedelic country gem. The harmonizing on "Captain Broughton" sounds great, and this Memphis-based story song takes you to outer space. The album gains momentum as it progresses. "Country Blue" captures the band's spacey essence complete with lyrical references to their home state. "Love On the Run" flirts with music technology a bit (drum machine percussion), and somewhat distracts from an otherwise fine composition.

"Loneliness" continues the sonic thread of the aforementioned song. The title track reminds the potential greatness of these musicians and their tunes. This song will transfer well to a live audience every night. The closer, "Best of Me", turns out to be a quiet dose of soul. Look forward to Sam Sniper moving onward...

James Calemine - Swampland


"Surviving the cold with Androcles and the Lion, Sam Sniper, and Nate Nelson"

Saturday night found me traversing through the icy cold air once more, excitement for the tunes keeping my fingers from freezing off. I feel like hypothermia is the order of the day when it comes to bands this season. But hey, you can't miss a chance to see a potentially awesome band just because there are icicles forming on the tips of your hair.

Now, I rarely write about the shows that I see outside of downtown, but the tunes owned Saturday night, and ignoring the highlights would simply be a crime! Androcles and the Lion was the first band that thawed out my ears a bit and caught my notice. Giving us a taste of soft, dark, and melancholy rock, their melodies pierced through the chill and and curled into the ears of those basking in the heat of the roaring fire a short ways away.

The next band ready to combat the cold was local music project Sam Sniper, a group that shares members with folk rockers Yo Soybean. Now I'll admit, as I'm not generally much of a country fan, I probably wouldn't have gone to see them otherwise, but I never pass up an opportunity to check out the side projects of the bands I like. It's one of the best ways to make new discoveries, after all! And, lucky for me, these guys were good. Sam Sniper surpassed all of my expectations by launching into a set full of country love songs fused with the most awesomely intense, hardcore rock. I know that sounds a bit insane, but their tunes were seriously tons of fun to experience and the crowd was definitely on my side. Everyone around me was dancing wildly, very nearly forgetting their frozen limbs in the excitement. I'd even hazard to say that it may have actually been worth freezing my feet so much that I still can't feel them two days later. Good stuff.

Then it was off to Farm 255 to finish the night. As my friend and I stepped into warmth, we caught the last few sweet bars of Nate Nelson's set. It was quite a fine ending to an extremely chilled evening. - Echoreyn of Athens


"Sam Sniper’s New Album On The Horizon"

Sam Sniper‘s album We’re Not Coming Back This Way is set to mark the band’s debut on April 15, 2011, and we say the album is on the ‘horizon’ because Sam Sniper emits sounds unlike those of city life and urban fare. Those wholesome fellas from Athens, GA that you see above look like they’ve half gotten back from a night sleeping under the stars and half worked off a crazy night out in the city. Alas, that’s exactly what they sound like too.

Their two tracks below showcase two completely different sides of what we can expect come April 15, 2011. “Best of Me” is infused with harmonizing like those country folk do so well, while “Love On The Run” features a bit of that lost harmonica we’ve been searching for with that 80s hairband guitar we all know and love. It’s quite tricky to lay down any comparisons here, but if I were to give it a stab, let’s just say Band of Horses circa 2010 (Infinite Arms) meets the country version of Van Morrison with a few tumbleweeds mixed with electric guitar. But you decide for yourself…

Check out Sam Sniper on their Facebook page or MySpace. - Music Under Fire


"Echoreview: Sam Sniper's We're Not Coming Back This Way"

At first, the country twang of Sam Sniper's melodies might seem like your standard Americana fare. But then whispers of pop and rock slide in with a hint of electronica to give their sound a style like no other. While Sam Sniper shares many of its members with local group Yo Soybean, this band has got more of an experimental and irreverent vibe that makes it an altogether different and quite intriguing creature. Already a fan favorite at their live shows, Sam Sniper releases their debut album We're Not Coming Back This Way next week. But how do these tracks compare?

Well, the record gets a strong start with the twangy, sweet ballad Heart, Beat. Although the track is much slower and a bit softer than I would have expected from the live versions I've heard of this largely acoustic tune, it proves to be an excellent beginning to the album. Then after a short, almost eerie transition track styled after a video game tune, the dark, rhythmic Cancertowne plays its way into our ears. Nearly unclassifiable, this song features southern pop and country rock influences as well as an electronic touch. Whatever the style, though, this song never fails to leave me dancing!

The next song When All Of Our Sins Are Good is an impromptu style, lo-fi creation that sounds like a bunch of men just began singing a melody of woe on the front porch. To be honest, I wasn't really feeling this track on my first listen. However, coupled with its polished followup song Bitter Heart's Radio, which runs with the same tune as the one before it, the effect is quite unique. It's almost as if the listener was in on the whole process from the song's conception to its place as a widespread country pop hit single. This second track also has female backing vocals that add a united strength to the tune.

Another transition track THIS breezes in next, featuring spoken poetry set against an eerie melody and the sounds of a night in the lonely country. Despite its marked difference from the rest of the album, I truly enjoy this one. Then THIS melts into Comfortable Hypocrisy, which is without a doubt my favorite track on the record. A rolling backing tune moves this song along as its brilliant lyrics wind themselves through the night until those nature sounds fade back into the listener's conscious.

Now in spite of my general resistance to all songs country, My Home, a rather traditional-sounding country song that graduates into an unexpected electric guitar solo with an almost schizophrenic rap section, is one of my other favorites as well. Captain Boughman comes next, rounding out my series of favorites and bringing with it a mysterious organ-style vibe layered on top of a country melody that gives birth to an eighties rock feel. It sounds insane, yes, but it just works!

A slower, introspective ballad, the next tune Country Blue sounds like the type of song you would listen to as you watched the rain pour outside your window. Then Love on the Run brings a classic sort of country rock to the mix before gaining a bit of a pop rock edge underscored by a romantic blues-style solo.

Loneliness ushers in the final three softer and slower melodies with an electronic keyboard tune accented by a bit of that old country twang. Then Best of Me lends a calm, acoustic sound to the album as one single voice joins with many to build a moving rhythm. Finally, following the trend of slow and soft tunes, the title track features a return to the lo-fi, blues-infused sound. This final song, highlighted by lyrics that frame the album's tunes with mentions of endings and an emphasis on a single repeated line: "not coming back this way", certainly provides a peaceful, fitting conclusion to this lawless, eclectic journey.

While most of my favorites from this album can be found near the beginning of the record, We're Not Coming Back This Way as a whole is a well-executed, cohesive album and definitely an awesome addition to any music collection whether you're a country fan or a fan of unique, expertly blended genres. To check out Sam Sniper for yourself, you can catch them at the Caledonia Lounge on Friday, April 15th for their album release party. Best of all, every person who attends gets a free CD! You won't want to miss it! - Echoreyn of Athens


"Brothers in Arms: Sam Sniper"

Brothers in Arms: Sam Sniper

In about 2002, some high school kids in Alpharetta started to play music together. They even started a couple of bands. Then they broke up and went to college.

That’s probably the best place to start the story of Sam Sniper, the local “country funk jungle rock” four-piece that will release its self-recorded debut LP “We’re Not Coming Back This Way” Friday night.

The release has been, to say the least, a long time in the making.

“Our first band, it was sort of confusing ‘cause we [had two] songwriters and singers, but we didn’t know how to blend it,” said singer/guitarist Andrew Klein. “I think a lot of people get discouraged with bands at a young age because of things like that … but the thing about music is that you have to work with people.”

Klein and Co. were kids at the time, and as they (he and high school friends/ future Sam Sniper-members Chris Barnett, Nick Mallis and Ryan Sedgwick) parted ways for college, they probably didn’t realize that they would wind up working together again and again over the next decade.

While the others were in school, Barnett, co-songwriter of Sam Sniper, dropped out of school to play guitar with another Atlanta band. Before long though, he and Klein were exchanging demos long-distance. Then not long after that, Barnett was living with Klein in Tampa, doing what two musical compatriots do best: playing music.

It wasn’t a serious project at that point, just two friends hanging out and enjoying playing music.

“If you’re not trying to put shows together and not trying to organize an album, that’s sort of the beautiful part of it,” Klein said.

The two built on what they’d started in high school, learning not just to play next to each other, but together.

Then, as fate would have it, Klein and Barnett parted ways again. Barnett moved around — Athens, Tallahassee, Charlotte — and Klein moved to Boulder, Colo. with his then-girlfriend.

“I lived with her for six months and pretty much couldn’t take being away from the music,” Klein said. “I started jamming with some people, but it was so hard starting another relationship with musicians and earning trust in people, I was just like, ‘Man there’s a whole group of people down in Georgia that I’ve already done all this with.’”

So he followed the music back southward where he joined Yo Soybean with Mallis and Sedgwick.

Barnett followed soon after. Then living in Charlotte, N.C., he was looking to do some recording, and who else would he ask to help but his old compatriots, all living in Athens at the time.

“That was the first serious self-recording we’d done, and I think we were a little shocked and impressed at what we were able to pull-off, which I think was really encouraging,” Barnett said. “So at that point I was like, ‘Let’s do it, let’s move down there.’”

A few months later and Barnett was in town, living with his old crew, playing music and starting to record what would become Friday’s release. And they’re still not sick of each other yet.

Sam Sniper has grown from a gaggle of high school rock star-hopefuls into a band with a distinctly cohesive sound. It’s not country or rock or funk but rather all of those, a Spaghetti Junction of sound. It’s actually almost as winding and intricate as the roads that brought each member back to this point.

But how long will it be before their roads diverge again? It sounds like a little longer than it did in Alpharetta.

“Andrew and I both turned 25 this year, so I think this time around it was like, ‘OK let’s try a little harder this time than last time ‘cause we’re starting to get old,’” Barnett said. “‘Let’s go kinda hard on this one and see what we can do.’”

Sam Sniper

When: Friday at 10 p.m.

Price: $5 (21+), $7 (18+)

Where: Caledonia Lounge

Also playing: Grinnin Bear, Brothers, All-City Cannonballers

More Information: Sam Sniper’s CD Release. All entrants get a free copy! - Red and Black


"Sam Sniper's upcoming debut an engaging listen"

Sam Sniper's upcoming debut an engaging listen

By Kevin Craig - Correspondent

Published Thursday, April 14, 2011
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Sam Sniper is experimenting with an interesting take on Southern music. Composed of every main member of Yo Soybean (Athens), this band couples new-folk songwriting with electronic textures and effectively creates its own paradoxical subgenre.

Most of the Yo Soybean members switch roles in this group, with Chris Barnett and Andrew Klein serving as the chief songwriters/ vocalists, and Yo Soybean's principal penman Nick Mallis playing bass and guitar.

"We're Not Coming Back This Way," the upcoming debut album from Sam Sniper, makes for an engaging listen.

Slower tracks like the opening "Heart, Beat" manage to be entrancing without being repetitive, while the more upbeat songs like "Love on the Run" and "Cancertowne" are melodic and even danceable.

The classic Western electric guitar tone, inclusion of folk instruments like banjo and violin, and bluegrass-esque harmonies form the traditional portion of this record's sound.

However, the synths and programmed music of the album put a new spin on the familiar textures and render the experience unique and interesting. I'm quite wary of electronic music, so I'm hesitant to reward this record's use of technology with a gold star. But it won me over.

Lyrically, this album injects traditional subject matter with modern wordplay and poetic ideas, never fearing the realms of depth or peculiarity.

"Captain Boughman" starts like a mix between an old bluegrass song, an older hymn and a new-folk anthem, but it suddenly breaks into an oddly tribal folk ballad.

The full, multilayered sound of this song initially distracted me from its strange opening line of "I'm a twin in the womb, and I'm looking through my brother's eyes," but once I heard it, I couldn't help but fondly recall Mark Twain's claim that he wasn't sure if he was himself or his twin brother who had died early in life.

Sam Sniper will celebrate the Tuesday release of "We're Not Coming Back This Way" with a release party Friday at Caledonia Lounge, with guests Brothers and Grinnin' Bear, and as an added bonus, all attendants will receive a free copy of the new album.

• Kevin Craig is a Marquee intern from the University of Georgia music business program.
- Athens Banner-Herald


Discography

Throwing Rocks - LP release date March 25th, 2014

Nothing Kills Me - single 2012, released on Athfest 2012 Compilation CD, http://athfest.com/music-festival/compilation-cds

We're Not Coming Back This Way - LP 2011



Photos

Bio

"Throwing Rocks" is Sam Sniper's second self-produced album recorded out of their home studio in Athens, GA. Andrew Klein and Chris Barnett, both on vocals and guitar, continue their sovereign tradition of songwriting and producing with drummer Bill Bacon and Nicholas Mallis on bass to complete the band as a four-piece. Sam Sniper brings a neoteric grunge aspect to their newest album while staying true to the alt-country and psych-pop elements of their first album, "We're Not Coming Back This Way." Since the release of their first album, Sam Sniper has been stretching their way across the southeast playing shows and festivals as far as Austin, Texas. The album has gone on to be nominated for 2012 Album of the Year by Flagpole Magazine in Athens, GA. Chris and Andrew started independently recording demos for their new album in the summer of 2012 and worked with Nicholas and Bill throughout the next year to complete their album. "Throwing Rocks" expands on Sam Sniper's introspective vision of purpose, love and escape from reality. After finishing a Kickstarter campaign the band is set to release, Throwing Rocks, on CDs and vinyl records in the spring of 2014.


Band Members