AM/FM - Audiot
Skylab Operations

It seems like a majority of the stuff I've been reviewing for this
zine lately has come in the form of "solo project."  Maybe it's the
climate of the scene, maybe it's all the kids growing up on early 90's emo
reaching some sort of maturity, or maybe it's merely the hip thing to
do; I don't really know.  One thing I got down, though, is that some of
this is good shit.

AM/FM would fall under the "good shit" category, I'm afraid. For the uninitiated, this would be the solo project from sometimes singer and full time guitarist Brian Sokel of Franklin. By powers of memory you should recall that I pretty much love that band, but this is an entirely different entity. It's not getting a good review because it sounds like Franklin or anything; this project is pretty far removed, and I'm guessing that's why he felt the need to do it in the first place. Not being in a band, I really have no concept of writing songs in the group setting versus writing them for yourself. I suppose, though, projects like AM/FM spring from the need to create for oneself after years in a long-running band like Franklin. Whatever the reason, Sokel proves himself here to be quite an accomplished songwriter here and releases a completely solid EP in the process.
From the sound of it, AM/FM was, at some time prior to this recording, a one man show. Like all these other projects, I envision Brian and his acoustic guitar. While that may have been fine and good, it sure is nice he decided to invite some friends into the studio with him and expand on that overly done sound. What results is a fully arranged, vibrant, and floral pop record. While all but one or two songs are written solely by Sokel, a couple are co-written by fellow cohort Mike Parsell (if you're keeping track, he was in Frail) who plays drums throughout. Sokel also enlists fellow Franklin-ites Josh Mills and Greg Giuliano. For the most part, the songs are catchy as hell pop outings although a couple expand into a sort of exerimental, spacy realm. Sokel and Parsell keep the reigns tight though, rarely is this album unaccessible in the slightest. The songs are textured and rich and instantly satisfying; Sokel's oft-forgotten-in-the-underground in-key singing is helpful, to say the least. The only complaint I really have is due to it's brevity. A few more songs would have made this a completely realized full-length effort. It's okay though, there are already mumblings of an Insound Tour Support EP and an EP for Tree Records. Keep an eye out for all three if you like textured, competant, and catchy as hell indie-pop.
...david smith...

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