Episode 193: Sam Marine
Air date: 10.18.2017
Sam Marine played in bands in his native Gainesville, Florida and New York City before landing Los Angeles a few years back. His brand-new Big Dark City EP is Marine’s third release, and on it he has perfected his particular brand of muscular, country-tinged rock and roll. Call it Americana if you wish, but the genre has always overlapped the straight ahead, cranked-amp jangle of the classic rockers. Marine knows this, and he smartly recruited Los Angeles’ rising star Brian Whelan to produce Big Dark City. The result pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. While he’s not on the road or gigging around town, Marine works as a bartender, and the cast of characters and late night lifestyle of the world’s second oldest profession provides him with ample inspiration for his songwriting. The title track is a swaggering mid-tempo rocker that sounds like a lost Steve Earle classic. “Dawn Come and Gone” serves up a ramped-up, four-on-the-floor stomp tempo and showcases Marine’s confident vocals with a bit of Sun Records-era slapback echo. Both of the first two songs are astute observations of American society’s late night outsider spaces that are often haunted by bartenders, artists, insomniacs and musicians - and it’s palpable that Marine knows them well. The remaining three tracks on Big Dark City take a page from Drive-By Truckers’ best work with narratives of hard luck situations set in any-state, any-year rural America. The only complaint about Big Dark City is that it is an EP rather than a full-length release - and it's fitting that he is getting some traction in the music scene, because Marine shares a bit of whatever is in the Gainesville water that made Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers one of the best bands in the world.