CD Review: The Ames – We Were Kids

Those with their eyes on the folk scene around town have a keen eye on The Ames, and are about to be rewarded. With their new CD We Were Kids, The Ames have crafted a musical identity – a sound which only sounds like The Ames.

So many bands listen to music in their genre and focus on mimicking it as closely as possible but The Ames have managed to completely miss their genre entirely. They are known as a folk band but their album falls more closely to pop-rock. If this scares you, don’t let it. All this means is We Were Kids will appeal to people who like folk, pop, rock, roots, singer-songwriter, indie music, etc. For anyone counting at home that’s pretty much everyone. Recorded in B Natural Studios down in Shoreline, the sound engineering on the disc is solid. At times the bass is a little loud and I found the cymbals (particularly the ride) to be a bit bright in the mix but I haven’t heard vocals or piano this well recorded in awhile.

My only complaint about the music itself is that there wasn’t enough! Someone needs to tell these guys (by lining their pockets with cash preferably) that if they’re going to make music as good as this then we want a longer album. We Were Kids clocked in around 20 minutes making it a great EP but not really a full length CD yet. The record features seven songs but two of them are transition pieces so we’ll call it five complete songs. Some are are upbeat, happy jams that would be fun to dance to, others more somber. To the Heart, the first song on the EP sounds like what I imagine Phantom of the Opera would sound like if Elton John wrote it. The piano on the album is driving and vibrant, often in control of the feel, even more so then then drums at times. Not to take away from the drumming which often features fantastic dynamics and a range of styles and grooves to keep things interesting. When playing along side a full 88 key piano many bass players can get lost but I didn’t feel that was the case here. Throughout the album Sam Carltons vocals range from stylish and fun, to soulful- even painful at times giving the full album a brilliant, distinct sound. In the future I would love to hear The Ames branch out a little more with their orchestration. More backup vocals, harmonica, banjo, and guitar on their next recording would fill out the sound and could be the difference between local band and national touring act.

We Were Kids really is an impressive recording. There isn’t enough emphasis put on creative, original song writing in music these days and The Ames have that in strides. Find a way to hear this album and make sure you check these guys out next time they play because it’s bands like The Ames that put B’ham music on the map in the first place.