CD Review of Get Better by Lemuria
Recommended if you like
The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk
Label
Asian Man Records
Lemuria: Get Better

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

A
fter releasing several EPs, alt-rockers Lemuria have come up with their first full-length album, and it’s a refreshing throwback to the melodic alt-rock sound of the early ‘90s. The Buffalo trio has a guitar-driven sound that mixes elements of punk, grunge and indie pop into a stew that goes down nice and easy.

Guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella sings with a confident melodicism, while also knocking out some basic but strong chord work throughout the album. Her angelic voice propels the band, suggesting her soul perhaps traces back to the majestic Lemurian civilization said to have pre-dated Atlantis. Harmonies with drummer/vocalist Alexander Kerns gel well, while bassist Jason Draper holds down a solid bottom end, enabling Ozzella and Kerns to play loose and have a consistent foundation to return to.

Songs like “Pants” and “Lipstick” sound like a mash-up of Veruca Salt and old Liz Phair with Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr., and it’s hard to think of anyone else who’s got that going on. “Buzz” has hooky chords and more strong vocals from Ozzella that recall the Breeders – there’s an indie vibe, but with vocals coated in just enough sugar to give a more accessible flavor than much of the punk-flavored material out there. The sonics are relatively low-fi, but the guitars are big and the hooks solid. Lemuria is no jam band, but it sounds like these songs could really open up live if the band wants to cut loose.

Drummer Kerns takes the lead vocal on mid-tempo numbers “Yesterday’s Lunch,” “Wardrobe” and “Hawaiian Shirt,” with Ozzella contributing harmonies to flesh things out, particularly her soaring chorus work on “Lunch,” which ends with she and Kerns singing together with great results. The combination of his understated vocal vibe with her stronger voice makes for a uniquely accessible flavor throughout the album. It’s only too bad bassist Draper doesn’t sing as well for three-part harmonies.

“Length Away” and the singular “Dog” have some more compelling vocals from Ozzella, with the latter coming over a Smashing Pumpkins-flavored progression that sounds great. The short track leads into “Dogs,” which rocks out over the same groove. It sounds like the same song split into two sections, with the second part being more jammed out. That vibe continues seamlessly into “Get Some Sleep,” with another up-tempo groove, more big guitar chords, and increasingly hooky vocals from Ozzella.

The band is at its best on the up-tempo stuff, with Ozzella singing her heart out. “Mechanical” closes out the album with another dynamic rocker that flies with soaring vocals before it drops down to a sparse bridge with a whistling part, then builds back up again in the final section.

There’s not a whole lot of diversity here, but the band is very good at what they do – two or three minute grunge-pop gems that get the head nodding and toes tapping thanks to catchy guitar hooks and consistently strong vocals from Ms. Ozzella. There aren’t many female artists who can sing and play like Ozzella, which definitely makes Lemuria a band worth watching.

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