SNMNMNM As Best We Can

[Unschooled; 2005]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: indie pop-rock, geek rock
Others: Versus, They Might Be Giants, Superchunk

This hard-to-pronounce Chapel Hill band (I think I've figured it out -- it's all their first initials divided by Ns, taking the place of ampersands) play likable, undistinguished indie pop-rock. Tap your foot to the bass lines... but what's this? That's no bass guitar, friend! SNMNMNM's gimmick is Mark Daumen's amplified tuba, which fills the place of the absent four-stringer. Filling out the quirky-instrument lineup, Seamus Kenney adds touches of accordion and trombone in addition to vocals, and Matt Kenney plays the trumpet along with guitar. The music sounds fairly Merge-y, and being from NC, it's a little surprising that the Initials aren't batting for team Superchunk. Surprising, that is, until one gets through the album and can't remember a single song. After a few listens, I was willing to give the boys credit for limiting the "subwoofer shattering" tuba solos promised by their promotional materials. I wasn't, however, eager to put the disc on again.

As Best We Can is pleasant but not memorable, and the fey, nasal Standard Indie Vocals detract where a stronger singer could really have done a lot for SNMNMNM. "Another Song Ray Hates," for example, seems to be swinging for Broken Social Scene's Pacific Theme territory, but the earnestly whiney vocals hold the song back. And Jesus, if I hear yet another band put a bar or two of "old school" preprogrammed Casio beats for cuteness' sake between their songs, I'm gonna dispatch a couple souls up to ya. SNMNMNM are likely the skilled musicians their label promises, but the ground they're covering on this release leaves this reviewer's attention wanting. P.S. these guys also include exclamation points after every song title... I hope they weren't aware that the Aquabats of all groups were doing this seven years ago. Come on, have some self-respect. Contrary to the disc's title, I don't think this is the best SNMNMNM can do.

1. The Ski Team!
2. Right Hand Man!
3. Disco Barry!
4. Plans!
5. Another Song Ray Hates!
6. Hands on the Ceiling
7. My Defense!
8. Indian Nation!
9. Wesley!
10. If!
11. Why Ray Hates Track 5