5 2012 Albums by Maine Artists you should own:
Sandbag; Sloppy Jays (read our album review here!)
Line of Force; Symbiotic (read our album review here!)
Running Gags; Yeah, No
Ill By Instinct; Second Wind
Restless Groove; Self-Title EP
There has been a lot written about the Running Gags’ new album Yeah, No already, so we will try to keep our review short and to the point. The album has been called genre-hopping and generally seems to be regarded by reviewers as having musical split personalities. Dispatch writers have gone so far as to say,
“I’m not saying that The Running Gags have to find a box and stay within the boundaries of it, but it would be nice if they knew which box fit them best and in what general vicinity that box was located.”
… but then followed that up with;
“There is overwhelming potential on display but it is clouded by genre hopping and I think, on some level, a lack of nailing down what the band is supposed to be.”
While it is true that each song on the album tends to differ in its influences and style references; it is not to say there is no cohesion to the album. A personal need for a band to figure out what they are “supposed to be” is just that; one individual’s personal, media influenced need (music wasn’t so rigorously placed within specific genres until record companies needed to define a language to make marketing easier). What the Gags are offering is original and unique for its intense musical excellence regardless of what style of music they play. Yeah, No will not appease a music listener who wants a continuous and similar song to song feel. Rather, the music listener who will appreciate and enjoy the Running Gags, and this album specifically, is that individual with a wide array of musical preferences and whose main requirement is technical skill and creativity. The Gags have that aplenty. If you appreciate a musical group that can offer you several different facets of themselves with each facet as honed and fulfilled as the last, then the Yeah, No is the album for you.
With that little rant aside, Yeah, No has clear punk, pop, and rock influences with some ska and reggae references mixed in. I do feel this album was meant to be an introduction for listeners to the full range and potential of the Gags; a sort of declaration of their abilities. I found the album energizing and exciting; the first time I ever heard the Running Gags I thought they had a lot of classier 90’s influences (we first wrote about them in 2010! Check it out here). Over the years they have grown significantly and left some of that 90’s style behind for a more full and heavier overall sound. Yeah, No features this perfectly; on the album the band offers the listener an extremely well crafted snapshot of their current stage in their life as the Running Gags. Yet one can tell they don’t take themselves too seriously; the music communicates a level of fun, creativity, humor, and potential that leaves me without a doubt that they will continue to evolve and always be offering their audience some totally new part of themselves. One of the Gag’s greatest qualities is that there is so much technical skill, difference in musical inspiration, and drive behind each member of the group and yet simultaneously so much cohesion in the band as a single functioning unit. These guys are going to continue to offer excellent and unique material throughout their career; so buy the ticket and take the ride!
Buy the album here!
The Running Gags have shows lined up in Portland, Waterville, Naples, and even Manchester, NH! Check out their schedule here! Make sure to catch them when they open for the Rustic Overtones in September at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington, ME!!
Mr. Invincible; has some of the most rocking bass and guitar lines, also very catchy.
Too Loud; this song is a Rager, has some awesome layering of vocals and really features the tight skills of the drummer throughout.
OMKAJ; this song, along with Just A Tree, features some excellent saxophone. This song is an a rollercoaster jam session and just overall fantastic.
Neat Fact about the Gags: If you have never seen them before; we have always been impressed by the fact that the “guitarist” and “bassist” switch rolls constantly depending on which song they are playing!
For a more song by song assessment of Yeah, No check out the Maine Campus’ review here.
Also, Dispatch’s review is here.