Digibites Electropop, House Gumshen Gumshen, a chameleon-like indie group out of Seattle, are clearly seeking to define their sound. Formed in 2008, Gumshen have put out a number of EPs and three albums between then and now. “Digibites” is their new album and it features some heavy nods to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. “Digibites” is very different from previous efforts and because of the number of styles Gumshen has tried over the years, but it may be said that the somewhat stylistically confused band may have finally landed on a sound. In 2008, Gumshen were a very different band. Their first EP, “Menthol James,” was sort of a throwback 90s hard rock compilation with heavy guitars and butt rock vocals. 2009’s “Stew” is all over the board, containing in one small EP a staggering number of genres including 90s Brit rock, funk, country and jazz. “March of the Februaries” inexplicably contains rap and Ben Folds-style piano blues. To say Gumshen’s early days were schizophrenic would be an understatement. It seems whatever the popular trend that year, Gumshen were trying to emulate it, often with poor results. By the release of their first album, “Everything What We’ve Recorded,” a more cohesive sound began to emerge. There is still a bit of the old chronic schizophrenia on this album, however, as the album, like it’s EP forbears, contains more genres than can be counted. These different styles don’t merge well at any point in the band’s first three releases. The electro synths make their first appearance on this album as well, and the funk elements to Gumshen’s sound start to tighten up a bit. “Progtronica,” released last year, is the first album where the patchwork quilt of sounds doesn’t occur, though there are still some pockets of Creed-like douche rock. Songs like the opener, “Bell Ringer,” show Gumshen’s potential when they get the combination of electronic, funk and indie elements just right. This brings us via chronology to “Digibites.” On this album Gumshen certainly stepped up their game in terms of eking out a sound and style. “Digibites” is highly danceable with the largest concentration of electro indie to date and someone must have popped a Thorazine because there are no more weird style mash-ups. When different genres are merged, it’s done quite masterfully. I hope, for their sake, that this album will be the one where they really stick to a formula because this one seems to be working. There are, as I foreshadowed in the intro, some issues with “Digibites.” It’s obvious on this album with songs like the opener and first single, “A Scene Like That,” that Gumshen have taken a lot of influence from some of the 2000s greats like LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and Chromeo. In this track, there is a healthy dose of funk a’la Chromeo and some LCD Soundsystem-esque bleeding synths. The next two tracks sound quite a bit in the synths like Hot Chip. Nothing wrong with trying to emulate one’s influences, but I’m wary of this with Gumshen because of their history of just picking on the hot trend and trying to pass it at their own inspiration. In these two tracks, there isn’t just a flavor of LCD Soundsystem, Chromeo and Hot Chip. In places it sounds almost like a cheap copy of these groups. In the album’s third song, “Latency Head,” the opening synth track sounds very similar to one of Hot Chip’s signature synth tracks, and once again I am worried about style-biting. By the middle of this track, however, a more unique sound starts to emerge, with a combination of funk or disco house and well-harmonized indie vocals. The synth track mutes a little to let this new style unfold, and by the end of “Latency Head,” the track emerges as one of the best on the album. After that this twinge of a unique and cohesive sound only gets stronger, as Gumshen’s own brand of indie electro and disco house comes to the forefront of most of the remaining songs on the album like “Pick up the Slack,” the electro-discoey “Talk to Me” and the interesting and almost ambient “Hint.” Phew! Let’s hope that sticks, just for energy conservation’s sake. It’s fine to experiment with different genres, styles and inspiration when a band is trying to create and define their sound. It’s also ok to switch gears when the mood takes said band and try a different angle. The levels at which both of these things have been done in the case of Gumshen is what’s worrying. Too much switching around inexplicably and emulating influences to the point of mimicry are usually the earmarks of a band in crisis. In the case of Gumshen, I think these kids will be alright. “Digibites” is more or less a triumph over their previous issues, so if they continue on this path the future is probably pretty bright for this previously confused band.  350
Brutal Resonance

Gumshen - Digibites

6.5
"Alright"
Spotify
Released off label 2015
Gumshen, a chameleon-like indie group out of Seattle, are clearly seeking to define their sound. Formed in 2008, Gumshen have put out a number of EPs and three albums between then and now. “Digibites” is their new album and it features some heavy nods to the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. “Digibites” is very different from previous efforts and because of the number of styles Gumshen has tried over the years, but it may be said that the somewhat stylistically confused band may have finally landed on a sound.
In 2008, Gumshen were a very different band. Their first EP, “Menthol James,” was sort of a throwback 90s hard rock compilation with heavy guitars and butt rock vocals. 2009’s “Stew” is all over the board, containing in one small EP a staggering number of genres including 90s Brit rock, funk, country and jazz. “March of the Februaries” inexplicably contains rap and Ben Folds-style piano blues. To say Gumshen’s early days were schizophrenic would be an understatement. It seems whatever the popular trend that year, Gumshen were trying to emulate it, often with poor results.
By the release of their first album, “Everything What We’ve Recorded,” a more cohesive sound began to emerge. There is still a bit of the old chronic schizophrenia on this album, however, as the album, like it’s EP forbears, contains more genres than can be counted. These different styles don’t merge well at any point in the band’s first three releases. The electro synths make their first appearance on this album as well, and the funk elements to Gumshen’s sound start to tighten up a bit. “Progtronica,” released last year, is the first album where the patchwork quilt of sounds doesn’t occur, though there are still some pockets of Creed-like douche rock. Songs like the opener, “Bell Ringer,” show Gumshen’s potential when they get the combination of electronic, funk and indie elements just right.
This brings us via chronology to “Digibites.” On this album Gumshen certainly stepped up their game in terms of eking out a sound and style. “Digibites” is highly danceable with the largest concentration of electro indie to date and someone must have popped a Thorazine because there are no more weird style mash-ups. When different genres are merged, it’s done quite masterfully. I hope, for their sake, that this album will be the one where they really stick to a formula because this one seems to be working.
There are, as I foreshadowed in the intro, some issues with “Digibites.” It’s obvious on this album with songs like the opener and first single, “A Scene Like That,” that Gumshen have taken a lot of influence from some of the 2000s greats like LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and Chromeo. In this track, there is a healthy dose of funk a’la Chromeo and some LCD Soundsystem-esque bleeding synths. The next two tracks sound quite a bit in the synths like Hot Chip. Nothing wrong with trying to emulate one’s influences, but I’m wary of this with Gumshen because of their history of just picking on the hot trend and trying to pass it at their own inspiration. In these two tracks, there isn’t just a flavor of LCD Soundsystem, Chromeo and Hot Chip. In places it sounds almost like a cheap copy of these groups.
In the album’s third song, “Latency Head,” the opening synth track sounds very similar to one of Hot Chip’s signature synth tracks, and once again I am worried about style-biting. By the middle of this track, however, a more unique sound starts to emerge, with a combination of funk or disco house and well-harmonized indie vocals. The synth track mutes a little to let this new style unfold, and by the end of “Latency Head,” the track emerges as one of the best on the album. After that this twinge of a unique and cohesive sound only gets stronger, as Gumshen’s own brand of indie electro and disco house comes to the forefront of most of the remaining songs on the album like “Pick up the Slack,” the electro-discoey “Talk to Me” and the interesting and almost ambient “Hint.” Phew! Let’s hope that sticks, just for energy conservation’s sake.
It’s fine to experiment with different genres, styles and inspiration when a band is trying to create and define their sound. It’s also ok to switch gears when the mood takes said band and try a different angle. The levels at which both of these things have been done in the case of Gumshen is what’s worrying. Too much switching around inexplicably and emulating influences to the point of mimicry are usually the earmarks of a band in crisis. In the case of Gumshen, I think these kids will be alright. “Digibites” is more or less a triumph over their previous issues, so if they continue on this path the future is probably pretty bright for this previously confused band. 





May 30 2015

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Layla Marino

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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