by Gabe Gott
If you have seen The Dreemers play around the area over the past year or so, then you, like me, have probably been eagerly anticipating the East Akron group’s first official recording.
On Record Store Day this past April 16, the band gave us a taste in the form of a released single. However, on May 13, the trio, comprised of Benjamin Patrick on vocals and guitar (and a little drums), Robert Keith on bass and vocals and Natalie Grieshammer on drums and vocals, will be releasing their debut EP, “Is Is,” which contains the single, “little Asian Things,” and three other songs those familiar with their live set will also recognize. If you aren’t familiar with it, then you are in for a treat.
“Is Is” was recorded in analog at the band’s eastside studio, The Electric Company, on an eight-track reel-to-reel, which contributes to the throwback feel of the songs. It was engineered, produced, mixed and mastered by Nate Bucher and the band, and Patrick and Keith are the main songwriters.
As fans of the band already know, The Dreemers’ sound is distinct and original, yet familiar, all at once, and that is captured well on this debut. A listener can pick out a variety of influences from garage soul and surf to the more new wave side of punk (à la The Talking Heads), with a healthy dose of the Akron Sound thrown in the mix.
“Little Asian Things,” in addition to being the first single, is also the first track on the set. The six-plus minute song goes by quickly, and you find yourself wanting it to keep going (if not for the rest of the songs). It immediately captures your attention with a reverb-soaked, blues-tinged guitar line, which the bass and drums pick up for a short moment, then switches gears when the main riff — which is reminiscent of the tight grooves of DEVO — takes over, and Patrick and Keith begin their dual vocal exchanges.
Just when you think the song is over, it is only really about half through, but that’s OK because what follows is a big part of what makes this song so interesting. The trio really gets a chance to jam out and play around with the sounds and the rhythms of the song.
The next track, “If I Were Older,” is another fun song lyrically, and it reminds me of an early ‘60s rock ballad, while “Feeling Fine” has a definite surf-rock vibe in the vocal harmonies and heavy reverb on the guitar. The latter gets stuck in your head the most, but that’s OK (at least I am OK with it), because if you weren’t feeling fine before hearing it, you will be afterward. The title track is also notable: It works well as the closing number, leaving you wanting to hear more, and is probably the darkest tonally — although not that dark. There are also little bits and pieces between the songs that sort of tie it all together and leave you hanging at the end so you might just let it repeat a time or two.
Patrick has a soulfulness to his voice and can howl out lyrics with the best of them. Keith has unique sounding vocals that pair well Patrick’s singing, but his bass playing is really the glue that holds it all together. Grieshammer’s drumming is tight and steady, and there is just enough of a flair that it keeps it interesting. One might think of Alan “The Human Metronome” Myers of DEVO, with a slight Meg White edge.
My only real criticism is that it ends too soon.
(Featured image courtesy of The Dreemers)