Summer's Not Over
It's been a while since Ultramagg's debut album; around 2 years, in fact. It may not feel like it to some, but to the band and their fans, it's been an eternity -- the four guys in the Houston emo-indie-rock band have been touring and playing nonstop since the first album's release, and for them, at least, it's about damn time. They've been playing most of the songs on Summer's Not Over for quite a while now, while touring back and forth across the south, but it took a while to put them to tape in finished form, even as an EP. Now that they have, however, the wait is well worth it.
Ultramagg have long been one of the tightest, most professional bands in town, and this release only solidifies that; all that playing has made these guys a damn good band, and it comes through here as an overall sense of maturity, especially when compared to their self-titled debut. I'm the last person in the world to put down Houston's music scene, but sometimes these things make me just shake my head in wonder, because the sad truth of it is that in any other city, these guys would be megastars (at least of the underground variety). For the sake of those of us here, though, let's hope they don't figure that out for a while longer and stick around...
There are some nice little production touches here (like the tinkly piano and whispered backing vocals on "Baby Hands," for one), but the songs really do speak for themselves. "Baby Hands" and "You're #1," in particular, are powerful, fiery, impassioned rock -- when singer Nathan Parsons screams "You're number one!" just as the guitars slam back in, it's just about the perfect Rock MomentTM. The only missteps are when the band gets a little too complex for their own good, like in the first verse of "Ricki Ricki," where the busy-ness of the music almost overwhelms the vocals.
In short, while it's not a full-length, it's something, and it's a good something. And the defiant refrain of the closing "Summer's Not Over" sounds less like an ending and more like a reminder that things are far from finished. (JH)
(Remedial Records -- P.O. Box 66403, Houston, TX. 77266; http://www.remedialmusic.com/)