Album Review

SAENTS: Self-Titled EP


Rock in the 2010s is an intriguing beast to try and decipher. Unlike what critics have been barreling down our eardrums with over the past two decades, no, it isn't dead. Moreover, it's the overarching music industry that has shifted so greatly over the years. Can we even call it the music 'industry' anymore? Probably not in modern context.

This produces a debacle for rock'n'roll. Its sound isn't dead, but the full-on all-the-time attitude that came with the genre, as a lifestyle produced in part by having to live through a cutthroat, now nonexistent industry, can at least be brought into question in our digital age. Try too hard to convey that old-school rock spirit, and all of that grit might be seen as sugary pomp by modern audiences. Try too little and it's going to be way too easy for those who are running the current scene—the Bullys and Deerhunters of the world—to keep on running it unopposed.

SAENTS are a trio who find themselves somewhere within that golden, happy medium between try-hard and don't-try-at-all that seems to pervade much of today's rock. Unlike a swath of others, they don't make it hard for outsiders to pinpoint whether the scene even has a heartbeat. Cool enough, too, that they're relatively newfound—their debut EP was just released over the past year—and they're already turning out music so riddled in bluesy riffs that you'd figure that its three members have a good hundred years of experience between them. Maybe that's putting on the praise a little too thickly, especially for a band of newbies, but giving an ear to their self-titled debut feels a lot like the answer to where that "real" rock'n'roll disposition has gone and how it can be applied to our new music world order.

The EP's five tracks ferry in at just around, collectively, twenty solid minutes. That may just be enough for a respectable opening set at a small-time club once you factor in set-up and audience interaction, but these guys are time management professionals. There isn't a minute out of the few that we have that feels wasted trying to shepherd back in some sort of rock demons who've just unwound from their prison for the first time in decades and are causing all sorts of chaos. Rather, this is self-contained rock with just enough grit to make it roll.

Otherwise, SAENTS aren't a rock band afraid to incorporate some pop music tricks into their arsenal, either, to keep folks listening. It's just that they are far more clever and indiscrete about driving indelible hooks than up-and-coming manufactured tween bands and their 400 ghostwriters tend to be. With as few tracks as there are present on this EP, it's encouraged that those who enjoy the next great stab at rock in the 21st century should apply their ears to these Austin-based newcomers more than it is for this humble writer to drone on for a few more paragraphs regarding what tunes set the room aflame the most for him. This is because, quite simply, chances are you'll come out of this experience impressed—and probably in an invigorated, rock-fueled frenzy for the next several days.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)