Gamenight is one of those bands that you’ll hear and wonder, “why aren’t these guys huge?” The quartet from Knoxville, Tenn. has been playing intellectual, somewhat proggy indie rock for nearly a decade. “Pets, Pets,” the group’s long-awaited, second full-length, due on Aug. 27, offers plenty of great tunes that should get these guys the kind of attention they rightfully deserve.
Their first LP, 2006’s “Simple Starts in the Mind,” though not a bad album by any means, showcased the band’s impressive musicianship but wasn’t exactly easily accessible. Other musicians enjoyed and respected it, but it never quite caught on with casual listeners.
“Pets, Pets” finds Gamenight trading the virtuosity for more straightforward, hook-laden songwriting. Just try not to sing along to the choruses on “All You Want” or “We’re Going Nowhere,” a couple of the album’s standout tracks. And they’re sure to strike a nerve with “Unglued,” an intimate ballad featuring acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and airy vocal harmonies.
While “Pets, Pets” is Gamenight’s poppiest venture to date, they certainly haven’t forsaken their incredible musicianship. There’s still plenty of angular melodies, tempo shifts, and fleet-fingered guitar work. The breakdown on “Tequila and Fake Eyelashes,” with its hyperspeed guitar run followed by a post-rockish build up, the crazy drumbeat two and a half minutes into “Bundleman,” and the tasty slide/hammer-on licks on “All You Want” are just a few examples.
The twin guitar attack of frontman Josh Manis and guitarist Robby Kerr has never been tighter. Bassist Matthew Presley and drummer Brandon Manis provide solid rhythmic backing to Josh’s insightful, poetic lyrics. The band was at the top of their game throughout the recording process.
If you haven’t heard Gamenight, do yourself a favor and pick up “Pets, Pets.” It’s easily their best, most accessible album. If they keep putting out quality, catchy stuff like this, they won’t be flying under the radar for much longer.