I've always been kind of a casual Samiam fan. I guess a part of it stems from the fact that I've only really been listening to them for two years and they've been mostly inactive until late 2010. But even then it's not often that I've found myself listening to an entire album by them. I'll usually start one but then skip around to the songs I like. Or I'll have to go somewhere or I'll have a sudden urge to listen to something else.
My point is that I'm not a die hard fan of them the same way I am about Green Day or Isocracy.
There's something about this album that's changed things for me because I really like it a lot. The general composition of the songs are no different than the last few albums but the production is nice and crisp which can make the biggest difference sometimes. Whatever's Got You Down had some great songs but it sounded pretty muddy at times and I think that's one of the biggest improvements that Trips makes. Maybe I'm just paying more attention to this album than I have with previous ones, but the songs are also catchier with more obvious hooks and "woahs" right out in the open instead of being hidden underneath layers of musicianship (not that the band's musicianship has ever been poor, quite the opposite, but it seems as if this time around the band went in with a different approach and focusing more on melodic sing-along songs than intricate playing).To make an analogy that might help sum up what I mean, Trips is to Samiam as Caution is to Hot Water Music: All the staple elements are there, but the production is cleaner and the songs are definitely "poppier" in comparison. To see what I mean by "poppier" take a listen to Clean Up the Mess or Crew of One and you'll probably have a better understanding.
The album's highlight is definitely El Dorado (misspelled as "El Dofando" on YouTube thanks to an early [pirated] leak). The drums and bass lay down a smoother and nicer atmosphere although the vocal delivery combined with the lead guitar create an intensity not found on other tracks. It may not be another "Capsized" or "Dull" but I think that it still holds up on its own.
Gainesville-esque is a term I've seen thrown around to sometimes describe a band's sound. I don't know if it's appropriate to use for Samiam. Probably not since they're from California. But Samiam is definitely up there alongside bands such as Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike for consistently churning out albums that tend to be overlooked by the mainstream but continue to have a huge underground following. I may be one of Samiam's newer fans, but I think that Trips is a welcome addition to their discography.
Lastly, sometimes I think that Jason Beebout sounds like Dave Grohl. Not a bad thing- just sayin'.