THE SAMMIES: Sandwich [MoRisen]

The Yardbirds in the mid-’60s. The Jam in the late ‘70s. The Hoodoo Gurus in the early ’80s. Guided By Voices in the early ’90s. Architects, all, of some of rock’s most tuneful, punk-fueled triumphs. It would be foolhardy to add North Carolina’s Sammies to such a pantheon prematurely, but the whiff of rock ’n’ roll majesty, in all its unruly brawn and beauty, is undeniably present on their sophomore platter. With a swagger in their hips and a snap to their step, they conjure Who/U2 anthemism, Brian Wilson-esque sunshine vibes, Nuggets-worthy jangle garage, new-wave dance parties, wistful Ray Davies-styled pop, even ’70s riff rock so boneheadedly brazen (“Treat Her Like A Queen” is pure Billy Squier) that you unapologetically reach for your Bic. Hometown pride being what it is—blind—I’m also reluctant to call the Sammies 2008’s rock saviors or anything like that. But guitarist/vocalist Frank Backgammon and drummer Donnie Yale (a.k.a. brothers Will and Joe Huntley) grew up in the same tiny Southern town as me (Wadesboro, N.C.), so the fan in me wants to cheer all the louder. For the rest of you: From Oasis-like arena-rock opener “Sleep In My Clothes” to the dreamy, “Layla”-tilting denouement of closing number “Saw Your Mother,” this Sandwich is nothing less than a feast. []

—Fred Mills