Enough has been made of the youthfulness of the high-school-aged The Seed Of Something. I’m always a tad uncomfortable with the need to constantly point to a teenage band’s age. Too often it’s used as a crutch: the explicit message is that it’s amazing that such young kids are doing this band thing, but the hidden agenda is to keep your expectations from getting too high and to head off criticism of a band that is otherwise not at all good or interesting — see the long-defunct Waterloo grunge band Mad Cow Disease. There were 16-year-old kids making records in the 1950s and ’60s that most of us can only dream of matching the greatness of. It’s not that special that your kid can manage to repetitively bang out a power-chord. Besides, youth is temporary.
On the other hand, when a band surprises you with skill and artistry that seem beyond their years, it’s only natural to want to point it out. Had I just wandered into Vaudeville Mews some night and heard The Seed Of Something’s music coming out of a group of mid-twentysomethings, I believe I would still conclude that this was a band worthy of my attention.
Then again, for The Seed Of Something, youth may be an advantage, and not as a convenient excuse either. One gets the feeling that if they were older, they wouldn’t sound quite like this. The Seed Of Something’s music feels like the product of kids who have discovered rock and roll but are still too unjaded to feel concerned with fitting into the conventions of a niche or subgenre. It’s refreshingly honest and sidesteps the usual hip and/or overthought bullshit in a way that only a certain kind of inexperience seems to be able to do. Those of us who feel compelled to analyze will find elements of 1960s garage rock, 1990s indie-rock, and 1970s punk, blended together so well on this self-titled debut that the distinctions fade away; the album never comes off as a collection of genre exercises but rather a band working from a wide range of inspirations from which a coherent sound arose organically.
The Seed Of Something open the album with about as good an introduction as you can get to their mentality and motivation. While the title “Soundwaves” is unlikely to be consciously referencing a long-defunct record store, the lyrics describe the joy of being immersed in powerful music. Jasper Farlow and Stone Mills trade off guitar, bass, and lead vocals in The Seed Of Something, and often sing together as they do here: “I am drowning,” they tell us first in unison then in harmony, “and there’s no place I’d rather be!”
The estimable skill of lead guitarist Dylan Lamb is the kind of high-powered weapon that a lesser band of this age bracket would be tempted to overuse to the point of becoming tiresome, but The Seed Of Something show taste in having him cut loose when it really counts. Lamb’s solos occasionally seem a bit conventionally classic-rock when set to such raw duct-tape tunes, but it works more often than not, making for lively air-guitar-worthy climaxes. There’s a nice bit of James Williamson scuzz around the edges of his delivery, and the Pixies bends with which he accents the refrains of “Debbie” are a treat as Mills’s guitar carries the simple but strong countermelody. Farlow gets his guitar-hero turn as well in the form of a mellow dual-tracked moment in “Mood Ring.” Luke Bascom keeps things swingy throughout, instinctively letting the rhythm breathe where it should.
The basement production hits a nice middle ground that, to reference one of the band’s stated and apparent influences, I would describe as cleaner than Bee Thousand but far less slick than Universal Truths And Cycles.
This album is packed with memorable shout-along moments, standouts among them being in “Lights Go Out”, “Dirty Cops”, “Ghost Town,” and especially “Downhill”, with its coda of “We’re going downhill from here!” Let’s hope The Seed Of Something aren’t actually headed downhill from here. They’ve already survived a couple lineup shifts so they might well be in it for the long haul. If so, it will be very interesting indeed to see where they go.
The Seed Of Something usher the cassette tape version of this thing into the world at Vaudeville Mews on September 10, joined by Going To Grandma’s and Dhobi Flats. It can also be streamed at Bandcamp, and I presume will also be available there in download form at some point.