If you’ve ever found yourself in a basement show singing along to some possibly bearded band playing upbeat music with sad lyrics that surely were written about something exactly what you’ve gone (or are going) through, you have Samiam to thank. Coming up at the same time as their Bay area counterparts Green Day and Jawbreaker, Samiam never quite reached the same household status but is still consistently putting out music that is listenable. Be honest, the last Green Day album you actually listened to had songs about George Bush on it.
Over the past 30+ years, Samiam has put out nine albums with a revolving door of members besides the two core members of Jason Beebout and Sergie Loobkoff. If you’ve never heard of Samiam it probably seems like those are made-up names and even if you already like Samiam you probably didn’t realize these were their actual names, did you? It’s ok, we’ve done the heavy lifting and dove headfirst into the details of the band and their discography and are here to rank everything from their shockingly underrated career.
9. Trips (2011)
Samiam later in their career always kind of rode that line between catchy punk and mainstream radio rock and this is the one where that line is crossed. This is a perfectly fine album but it’s also the one that you can almost imagine being played over the loudspeaker at your local supermarket.
Play it again: “80 West”
Skip it: “Magellan” It’s great to not always do the same thing but sometimes that new direction doesn’t find its destination (navigation pun)
8. Whatever’s Got You Down (2006)
After a six-year hiatus, they returned with this album and immediately something seemed off. All the elements are there for the most part but the recording sounds like it was done with a boombox placed in the middle of the practice room. The backlash to this was so bad that they released a remixed version in 2013 to fix the glaring mistakes but even this new version doesn’t really seem to have the goods.
Play it again: “Storm Clouds”
Skip it: “Hog” Come on, even by 2006 it was a bad idea to end your CD with a joke song you thought was funny because you were high in the studio
7. Stowaway (2023)
It’s probably unfair to compare a band’s brand-new album to everything they’ve been doing for three previous decades, but then again life isn’t fair. We have to judge this one based solely on the music itself without any rose-colored nostalgia corrupting our judgment. The good news is the verdict is this a really good album with a lot of it sounding like something from their catalog in the late ‘90s.
Play it again: “Monterey Canyon”
Skip it: “Stowaway” It’s not often that the title track is the skipper but here it is
6. Self-Titled (1990)
1990 was a weird year for music. The punk and hardcore bands of the ‘80s had burned themselves out and the Whitesnakes of the world dominated the airwaves. This was the year Samiam released their first full-length and in a way picked up where Hüsker Dü left off even though it may be a little rough in spots.
Play it again: “Speed,” “The Bridge,” and “Home Sweet Home”
Skip it: “My Eye”
5. Astray (2000)
Maybe it was the fact that nothing happened on Y2K, but by 2000 Samiam seemed to cool their heels a bit and relaxed into a mid-career cruise. Astray is both a little more angsty than its predecessor and also a bit more tame. We spent most of the year 2000 eating through our doomsday rations anyway.
Play it again: “Super Brava,” and “Dull” (Any song that mentions The Doughboys is alright with me)
Skip it: “Curbside”
4. You Are Freaking Me Out (1997)
Their second major label release and from a production stance, arguably their best-sounding record. Beebout’s vocals are clean but powerful and you can tell he was really swinging for the fences. This is the soundtrack to a slacker alt road trip to find the best thrift store two states over.
Play it again: “She Found You,” and “Ordinary Life”
Skip it: “Cry Baby Cry” Oh my God, enough with the fucking Beatles already
3. Soar (1991)
The second album for every band is tricky. While some bands make embarrassing cringe-tastic decisions on their second album (“Let’s add violins!”) Samiam instead solidified their sound and smoothed off just enough of the rough edges from their debut.
Play it again: “Sky Flying By,” “Friend,” and “Clean”
Skip it: “Louie” It’s a nice little instrumental palette cleanser but it’s not a go-to banger
2. Clumsy (1994)
Their first major label release and their big breakout which earned them some modest airplay on MTV and even an appearance on the early Jon Stewart Show. The deep pockets of Atlantic Records afforded them better production but luckily they avoided the pitfalls of the overly slick and sanitized sound so many bands seem to fall into once Daddy Music Label opens their wallet.
Play it again: “No Size That Small,” and “Capsized”
Skip it: “Sima” Let’s save the songs about cars for the rockabilly crowd, please
1. Billy (1992)
What a sad fucking album this is but somehow it still makes you feel happy. Well, maybe not happy but possibly less depressed. Is it emo? Shit no. But it’s emotional as fuck. It almost feels like a concept album with the concept being life is shit especially when you’re broke and lonely.
Play it again: The whole thing top to bottom but “Don’t Break Me,” and “Regret” are the hits and “Head Trap” is the real sleeper surprise
Skip it: Don’t break me. I don’t mean the song, I mean don’t actually break me if you disagree with this ranking