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The best kept secret in music


"One of the hottest new rock posses in Boston" - Boston Phoenix

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Each member of blossoming Boston five-piece Sawyer found (or was found by) music during early childhood — as early as one in some cases. They cite influences as diverse as Miles Davis, Ben Folds, Billy Corgan, and Blue Man Group, but the most vital influences present in their music are those which they exert upon one another. Listening to the three tracks comprising their first EP, Signals/Sounds, it is apparent that each musician has outgrown his "rehash my heroes" phase and joined Sawyer primed and armed to craft truly original stuff.

A peruasal of the group's biography reveals the exploratory architecture of their songs. Childhood friends from the midwest, Mike and Joel formed the core of the group last summer in Boston, where Mike was studying percussion at Berklee. Joel had been writing some original material back home, which he shared with Mike on a visit. Within a few months, they had grown into a quintet, welcoming guitarist/ songwriter Tyler Littwin, bassist Todd, and guitarist Aaron. Ask the band about how they found each other and they might credit fate (some alledge their rehearsal space to be disturbed by spirits), but it must also be due to their shared passion for creating and their mutual receptivity — some kind of accidental prescience.

Like an Elizabethan sonnet, each track on the debut EP derives its power from the contradiction between its seemingly improvisational spirit and its undeniably calculated structure. "Penelope Left Waiting" opens with a crisp, loping bass groove that initially threatens monotony, only to take a bitter twist as the aggresive minor-key melody kicks in. Once the chorus explodes with a controlled buzzing of reverbed vocals, the listener can only wonder how many different directions Sawyer will lead him or her before the track's 3:57 have been spent. Then, as in a razor commercial, the listener is even further flabbergasted when an incredible FOURTH hook hits, and the song eases into a chill, lounge-funk bridge. The transitions between the song's several autonomous movements are remarkably natural, seeming to arise from a spontaneous Jungian impulse issued on a frequency receivable by the five members of Sawyer only. But, as any songsmith knows, quality work such as this only comes after hours of rehearsal, revision, and studio sweat.

While Littwin's "Penelope Left Waiting" relies heavily on constant rhythmic innovation and cryptic lyrics, Joel's contribution "Inside" wins the charm of its The Bends-esque melody sung in ethereal falsetto. A more traditionally structured rock song, Joel's lyrics show skillful wordplay to capture a moment of sober reflection. Lines like "I'm shedding my direction, I've got no place to be/ I think it's my reflection/ My eyes weren't well adjusted, maybe all I saw was me" suggest a moment of clarity attained through the act of artistic creation. Joel deals in abstractions, his coming back "inside" symbolising introspection and the solace found therein.

The Eliot-inspired lyrics of "The Cocktail Sermon," penned two years ago by acquaintance C.T. Flynn, observe the drunk morality of New England revelers: "Darkened seabed town, lost without mast or sail...there's been a loss my friend, drinks spilled in the basement again." Littwin's musical adaptation suits Flynn's fractured poetry by meandering in and out of a dark, aggressive refrain, and the song's final minute finds Sawyer at their absolute best as power-riffs crest and fall, crest and fall like the sounds of death by water.

The signals and sounds on Signals/Sounds are compositionally mature, a genuine accomplishment for such a young band. Having already performed in venues across New England, including Boston's famed Middle East club, and in Manhattan, Sawyer seem poised to become what you are talking to your music friends about. That I happened to bump into Littwin, a college friend, in an East Village bar the very night of Sawyer's first NYC show has to signify something cosmic or kismetic or something. You will hear, you will believe the goodness of what you hear, you will tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends...

-Marty Northrop - Marty Northrop

Sawyer are another odd bunch. Their music lurches from time to tempo in a way that I rather like, although it makes it hard to tell when a song has ended and we should clap. The lead singer makes me think of an indie rock Frank Sinatra for the new millenium. At its worst, this means a boozy stagger among pitches, not always landing exactly on them. (This seems to happen most in the slow, gentle intros and outros of songs.) At its best, it means a rich tone and a confident showmanship that go well with the band's noisy pop and his nice piano lines. There's some good harmony singing, and all the vocalists seem at their best when they cut loose in the most energetic sections. - Steve Gisselbrecht


signals/sounds - Demo, 2004

The band is currently in the studio recording its first full-length album. Check out the "audio" section to hear tracks from the current demo, "signals/sounds."


Feeling a bit camera shy


Formed in the summer of 2003, the band has been playing in and around Boston for the past six months, drawing a following based primarily on their powerful live shows. Sawyer has played a wide range of Boston area venues, including The Middle East, Paradise Rock Club, Skybar, Harper’s Ferry, O’Briens, and TT the Bear’s. The band has also played numerous university shows, including Northeastern and Boston Universities. They have branched out to play shows in western MA, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut. Dates for a 2004 summer tour of the East Coast and Midwest (the latter being home to four of the five band members) are currently being booked.

Sawyer's distinction is rooted in its ability to fuse a wide range of musical styles and influences into a cohesive and surprisingly sustainable whole. Since the band consists of professional musicians, current music students, and self-taught musicians, each member brings to the table his own perspective -- whether it be a knowledge of music theory or an instinctual ear. As a result, the band's music enjoys a constant evolution.

Sawyer is currently in the studio recording their much-anticipated first full-length album. Check out the "audio" section for the first rough taste of what's in store.