Album Review: Common Sage—”Where are you? I’m in Klamath Falls, are you here?”

Posted: by The Editor

I met Julian Rosen when his band Common Sage played a gig with Retirement Party in an Albany basement. Their three-piece jam band style really caught my attention, as it’s difficult to produce the kind of full sonics they achieved with only three instruments (and a shitty PA). Their syncopation was very tight, despite them having declared they had barely been able to practice that week, and it really translates onto their record, titled “Where are you? I’m in Klamath Falls, are you here?”. While some of the songs are a bit on the long side, Rosen’s lively yet lilting lo-fi nature and vocal style is what establishes the Staten Island group as an underground-sounding band. 

One of the most noticeable things about this album is the mixture of melody styles that Rosen employs, sometimes sounding like Jake Ewald (Modern Baseball, Slaughter Beach, Dog) and Dylan Mattheisen (Tiny Moving Parts), and other times gaining a frantic rasp similar to Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse). There are several songs that are obviously inspired musically by Modest Mouse, such as “Roadkill” and “Hold Hope Peninsula.” Other tracks, like “Montauk, Ny,” are reminiscent of mellow indie rock bands like The Shins, with simple but bouncing guitar riffs and beats comprising most of the bridges. This stylistic variety creates a unique blend of alternative and folk rock that’s both appealing and easy to experiment with. However, experimentation needs variation.

The group is a three-piece that leans on long, epic bridges, that can unfortunately fall flat of expectations. Having only one guitar player limits the band’s versatility, and since five of the songs on the album are over five minutes, it’s easy to zone out and forget the dynamic of the track. The riffs are cool and can sustain attention for a time, but the repetitive progressions eventually hurt the repeatability of the album.

The record as a whole is a cohesive work that utilizes sampling in a mysteriously cool, albeit now overused, way. It’s an endearing, emotionally charged emo/folk-rock scrapbook of an album that I could feasibly score an indie movie inspired by “Stranger Things.” The title alone is just begging to be the soundtrack to a twenty-something-year-old’s fall road trip-turned biopic.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

“Where are you? I’m in Klamath Falls, are you here?” is available on cassette via Good Sadie Media

Luciano Ferrara | @LucianoRFerrara

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