The Upright Animals
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The Upright Animals

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"PLAYBACK:stl Feb. 2007 review of SCAMS"

As far as unsigned bands that have only existed for about two years go, the Upright Animals have been fairly successful. Having won Mississippi Nights' 2005 battle of the bands, as well as having opened for Chuck Berry (on more than one occasion, woo!), the quintet should be pretty optimistic heading into 2007 with their first full-length release, Scams. Recorded in St. Louis yet mastered in Phoenix by Roger Seibel (who has associated himself with Death Cab for Cutie and Interpol, among others), the spacious debut features brothers Jim and Ben Peters on wail duty, Bill Newmann's thumping bass, Moises Padilla's heavy skins, and the omnipresent, smooth howls of James Irwin. Touting their divergence from cut-and-paste radio rock, the Upright Animals form echoing, deeply cosmic ballads, anchored by Irwin's suspended vocals and peppered with the subtly expansive merging of concise, space-rock guitar.

Scams is passive-aggressive in nature, rarely in your face, but never light-hearted, drenched in aching vocals and cathartic riffs. From the embattled cries of "Taking the Sun from Our Days" to the erstwhile, emo pluckings of the aptly titled "Drunk Dial," the Upright Animals strain without pulling anything, opting for pop arrangements to build tidy walls around progressive instincts. The biggest coup in their initial effort, though, has to be the firm establishment of a definitive tone, a voice, as it were. Clearly influenced by the likes of the Mars Volta and Smashing Pumpkins, the St. Louisans seek continuity among their drifting grasps, focusing on minor keys, the disparity between quiet and heroic bursts, and reverberating fills with counter-balancing melodies.

Second-track standout, "Taking the Sun From our Days," begins with an eerily familiar, Yoshimi-esque blare, segueing into a furious, scale-climbing lead before Irwin evokes memories of the Juliana Theory's better days, the kind that make you want to finish that drink and get another. The song climaxes with intertwining leads reintroducing an anthemic chorus, devolving into the fractured disturbances of "Hand Grenade" as Scams' catchy torso gives way. For about a four-song stretch, the Upright Animals let loose, and this is what they do best: jamming, ranting, building up and breaking down.

As a structured unit, the group can be its own worst enemy, forgetting to distinguish itself at times. However, as pure musicians, these guys are plenty proficient. Scams is a solid introduction to a band that really hasn't seen a whole lot of daylight. With a little perspective, seasoning, and exposure, the Upright Animals could keep their quick ascent steady. For the time being, St. Louisans can sit back (or stand up) and enjoy watching them grow. B | Dave Jasmon -

"UMSL Current Nov. 07 review of SCAMS"

If you are ever walking along the Loop and happen to look down, you may very well see "The Upright Animals" in stenciled graffiti on the sidewalk.

I know because quite often I see the band's name on my way to Thai food. Every time I see "The Upright Animals," though, I wonder how confused I would be if I did not already know of the band.

The Upright Animals is a local St. Louis band that released their album "Scams" in September of last year. They are a smooth sounding, pop rock band who quite often get their fans up dancing by the stage, with musical roots in Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay and Radiohead.

"Scams" as a whole is a lovely local CD by one of the best alternative rock groups out of St. Louis. While some of the songs do not jump out, blurring into the overall sound of The Upright Animals, there are enough gems to make the CD itself memorable.

"Scams" opens with the upbeat "Note to Self" before moving into the more popular "Taking the Sun from Our Days."

The second track, which can be heard on MySpace, is more hard hitting and exemplifies lead singer Jamie Irwin's amazingly strong and soulful vocals.

While it is difficult to pick a favorite on "Scams," the eighth track, "Aircan't," stands out as it follows the rock fueled "Interest."

"Aircan't" is not as mellow as "Drunk Dial" but it is a far cry from the rock of "Taking the Sun from our Days."

It hits the happy medium with a Snow Patrol feel, offering a bargain: "If you believe me, I promise you won't drown."

"To the Sky," an acoustic track, is another highlight and proves, along with the occasional acoustic concert, that The Upright Animals can perform beautifully with the softer side of rock music, sounding almost like a soul folk blend.

"Hand Grenade," moves into the sultry side of The Upright Animals which dissolves into a psychedelic distortion finale of guitars, played by Ben and Jim Peters, and drums by Moises Padilla. "Pay Me," a direct plea to be repaid "what you owe me," opens with the steady rhythm common in many of The Upright Animals' songs.

"She's Not an Animal" is two minutes of fun pop about not wanting to let go of someone with more Caribbean influence than the later solid rock track "Olde Cuban."

"Drunk Dial," a drinking faux pas every college kid has either committed or been woken up by, turns into a mellow lament about not listening in the hands of The Upright Animals.

"Scams" ends with another hard-hitting track, "Stay Inside," followed by the more alternative rock style "Wishing You Well." This works as a reversal of the opening two tracks' sound and rounds out the whole CD nicely.

The Upright Animals quite often play at local venues such as Cicero's and Off Broadway, alongside other great local acts including Ashborne and Copperview.

"Scams" is a well-produced CD that will hold fans over between shows but the live show definitely carries more energy.

"Scams" does not include the band's most stereotypical pop song, "This Love." This is a different "This Love" than Maroon 5's.

The song's simple lyrics and catchy melody, as well as fairly sappy subject matter, easily captivates anyone who enjoys pop music. Its availability on MySpace also creates immediate fans.

I once commented to another fan that "This Love" was the original reason I got into The Upright Animals.

She responded with an empathetic, "This song is how everyone gets into The Upright Animals."

Download it for free and see if you do not also get pulled into the sound that is The Upright Animals.

****(out of 5)
written by Elizabeth Staudt

"Beatle Bob's Rave Ups Oct 07"

The widespread appeal of the Upright Animals' music stems not only from the band's musical versatility and prolific songwriting but also from the magnetic chemistry the group creates on stage together. It holds together through the rigors of the members' involved professional lives together. It is this chemistry that audiences are drawn to, caught up in, and made to comment on effusively at shows and in online chat groups. It is this chemistry that is propelling the Upright Animals to even greater success.

written by Beatle Bob for -


EP: "Vol. 1" released 2005
1. Fade
2. Don't Think You're Forgotten
3. This Love

LP: "Scams" released 2006
1. Note To Self (streaming airplay on
2. Taking The Sun From Our Days
3. Hand Grenade
4. Pay Me
5. She's Not An Animal
6. Drunk Dial
7. Interest
8. Aircan't
9. Olde Cuban
10. To The Sky
11. Stay Inside
12. Wishing You Well



We are a family band. 3/5ths of us are, anyway. Ben and Jim Peters are brothers and Jamie Irwin is their step-brother. That would make Jeff Hall and Bill Newmann the proverbial brothers.

Our influences include, but are not limited to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, The Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, The Raconteurs, etc. We love music that really rocks, but we also feel dynamics are just as important; not just playing at "10" all the time.

Some venues we've played at include Mississippi Nights (STL), The Pageant (STL), Blueberry Hill (STL), Cicero's (STL), Mojo's (Columbia, MO), and The Blue Fugue (Columbia, MO).

We've been fortunate to play with many talented national artists, including Chuck Berry, Ozomatli, and Dr. Dog.

We do not sound like any other single band. Sure, you can hear our influences winding through our songs, but at the end of the day, we sound like The Upright Animals. This is perhaps our greatest strength and indeed what we strive for. We love it and will not stop!