SCENE, NOT HERD
ALBUM: SCENE, NOT HERD
BAND: THE DECIBELS
SCREAMING APPLE RECORDS
reviewed by NADJA DEE
Photo by: Sarah Sol
SCENE, NOT HERD
Released 12/14/2018 (Screaming Apple Records)
Musicians: Dean Seavers (Vocals, Guitar)
Joe Pach (Guitar, Vocals)
Brent Seavers (Bass, Vocals)
Brian Machado (Drums, Vocals)
Jordan Seavers (Trumpet on Hey Emily)
Produced by: The Decibels
Recorded at: Lucky Shot Studios
Engineered & Mixed by: Brent Seavers
Final Mix & Mastering by: Bart Thurber, House of Faith
This is becoming a habit.
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, I’ll tell you. I’m referring to the process of discovering great, new Power Pop groups.
It starts like this:
1. Get a message from a band I’ve never heard about before
2. Listen to their music
3. Discover this is actually the band’s 3rd, 4th or 5th album
4. Realize they’re this AMAZING Power Pop band and wonder why I’ve never heard them before
5. Decide they’re the best thing since shredded guitar chords
The problem isn't that I'm discovering great music. The problem is that these great musicians, writing amazing music is totally unknown to the public, like gold nuggets buried deep in the dirt.
I'm not alone. Unless you work in the music industry, most of us turn on the radio and it seems like we hear the same 12 songs of the moment over-and-over until we’re brainwashed into thinking it’s good music and we must buy it or be unhip.
In this technologically advanced day and age, world events and new music should be put within close reach to our fingertips but it's not. Most independent music groups remain unknown to the music loving audience. It's up to the group themselves to promote their music and get the word out.
One of the main purposes in creating HOP ON POWER POP was to bring attention to these unknown, underappreciated bands that fly under the Power Pop radar. HOP ON POWER POP isn’t the only one putting the much-deserved spotlight on these acts; Stir Records, Kool Kay Music, Ice Cream Man, Stephen Spazz Schnee, Time Machine Music, Radio Indie Alliance and a lot of others are doing the same thing.
So, when I was contacted by The Seaver’s and realized their music is some of the best Power Pop songs I’ve ever heard in my life, I found myself once again at a loss why I hadn’t heard of The Decibels before.
But enough complaining, here’s a review of an album you have to hear,
THE DECIBELS: SCENE, NOT HERD
Released: December 14, 2018
Label: Screaming Apple
The Decibels are a four-piece, Power Pop band from Sacramento California, comprised of Brett Seavers (Uncle to Dean), Dean Seavers (Nephew to Brett), Joe Patch and Brian Machado.
This is The Decibels 5th album, following Create Action! The Big Sounds of The Decibels, The Bart Thurber Sessions, Big Hits! and a couple of EPs. So, they aren’t exactly new to the scene, they just haven’t really been heard! (See what I did there?)
I always try to listen to a band’s earlier work, even going so far as to look up the music release when they played in other bands.
If you listen to their first three albums, you’ll realize The Decibels have always had high energy and a knack for tight songwriting. The first album, Create Action! has songs that border on punk rock. Big Sounds! is pure Power Pop goodness. The 4th album, Big Hits is a covers album of great songs including Status Quo's Pictures of Matchstick Men, 20/20's Yellow Pills and Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action. It's a veritable jukebox of Power Pop hits (If you could call any Power Pop song an actual "hit")
I recently installed a heavy shelf into four wall studs with my husband and needed a high energy background soundtrack to cheer us on. I put on The Decibels 3rd release, The Bart Thurber Sessions and I feel like it not only made the installation quick it also made it fun!
I think that’s what The Decibels do best, they have fun at what they do. It’s infectious.
"I think that's what The Decibels do best, they have fun"
When I was listening to their earlier albums, I had a strange thought. Their music sounds like the music of a band who was trapped on a desert island, with electricity and a bunch of instruments but they could only listen to the early work from The Beatles. Everything from the Hamburg days to Help! but no further. Stop at 1965.
This isn’t a criticism in the least. Actually, here in 2019, I’d say that’s a huge compliment. The Beatles music at that time, was high energy, catchy, fun, tight and melodic. Those days predated the influences of drugs. You weren’t wondering about what John Lennon meant by marmalade skies or girls with kaleidoscope eyes. I think a group who can restrict their songwriting to the pure songwriting influences when musicians have sampling and the Antares Auto-Tune effect at their disposal deserve an ovation. One only has to look no further than their cover of Please, Please Me on The Bart Thurber sessions. A perfect song to cover, notice they didn’t cover Helter Skelter? (Not that they couldn’t!)
That influence can be heard in the first few Decibels albums, until Scene, Not Herd. By this album, someone must have helicoptered and air dropped Revolver and Rubber Soul to the lads from Sacramento. It’s still all about the influences of the Early Beatles, but there’s more to this album than the previous releases.
Typical of Power Pop groups is the “play on words” in the album title, “Scene, Not Herd.” It’s not “seen” and it’s not “heard.” You see, The Decibels are telling you that they’re not from the usual pack of musicians you’re used to hearing today. Nope. Listening to these guys are like taking a time machine back to The Cavern Club. You’ll be dropping into the music scene but they’re not part of the boring, mainstream herd of America’s Got yet another forced upon music Idol.
The first song, Hey Emily, starts the album with a bang, providing proof that a song can contain brass instruments and still be Power Pop. It’s a fun song about a girl, Emily, once again landing the band squarely in the Power Pop genre.
The 2nd track, Stupidity, was highlighted when it landed in position #8 on the UK’s Radio Indie Perfumed Allotment.
The first four tracks are a cohesive group of solid Power Pop songs with songwriting going back and forth by The Seaver’s. Then you get to track #5 Misery.
As if to further prove my Early Beatles theory, there’s a song on Scene, Not Herd called “Misery.” It’s not a cover of The Beatles song Misery from Please, Please Me. Nope. Actually, it’s a much better song.
Misery is an obvious change in tone from the previous tracks. It almost feels like it could’ve been a ballad, but it’s not. It’s a song that I could see played by The Wonders in That Thing You Do! (Has Tom Hanks heard this song?). Or it’s a song, especially with that gorgeous stepping guitar riff, that you could imagine The Beatles covering during their Cavern days. In fact, if you took the old black and white footage of The Beatles at The Cavern Club and substituted Misery as the song they were performing, it would pass. (I don’t know why but that footage always looks sped up to my eyes.)
My favorite track is #9, She Thinks Of Everything. The song has
"everything" in it, great hooks, catchy lyrics and it just drives like a racecar
on the freeway. I especially like the Monkees vibe to the song especially
when they string out the word, "Sheee."
According to Brent "Some songs have the hook in the chorus. Others have the hook in the verses. Dean has a way of writing songs so that each part has value. It's such a fun one to play live, and was a blast to record! It's one of my favorites on the album."
Track #10, All Of Your Lies, amps it up again, with obvious inspiration from The Ramones.
The album ends with My Guitar, the softest song on the album, but it's not soft, slow or a ballad. This entire album rocks out. This is the album you want to put on to move, to dance to clean house. The Decibels put the POWER in POWER POP. Not every song has to be cranked up to an 11, but nobody told The Decibels that detail, and I for one, am pleased.
They are going on a small tour in May 2019 so be sure to catch them.
AS ALWAYS, PLEASE SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!
BUY IT HERE!
DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
Go to HOP ON POWER POP ALBUM REVIEW GUIDELINES for more information:
March 22 - Sacramento, CA
March 24 - Seattle, WA
March 25 - Portland, OR
May 31 - San Francisco, CA
July 5 - Oakland, CA
July 26 - San Diego, CA
July 27 & 28 - Los Angeles, CA
THE DECIBELS 2019 WEST COAST TOUR