Lab Partners
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Lab Partners

Dayton, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | INDIE

Dayton, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Under the Radar - Summer 2005"

8 blips out of 10

By Marcus Kagler

Don't you love it when an unknown band with real potential actually progresses? In 2003, the Dayton, Ohio quartet Lab Partners released their debut Daystar, one hell of an epic shoegazer album. But it was still just a shoegazer record. Their sophomore effort, Wicked Branches, finds Lab Partners carving their niche into the rock 'n' roll wall by putting the "rock" back in space rock. Although they still maintain their effects-pedal wall of sound, lead singer Mike Smith and company have learned to infuse the shoegazer sound with enough melodic drive and energy to make you want to get up and dance.

"Blood Moon" is straight up epic psychedelic rock with dissonant hooks and craftsmanship reminiscent of Northern Soul-era Verve. "Love Don't Care" possesses a deep bass groove fused with spacey Middle Eastern licks, while the rapid fade in & outs of "Tidal Wave" blink like a thousand stars. The future of space rock starts here. ( - UTR

"SPIN Magazine - Feb. 2003"

Epic, old-style dream pop, radioed in from the spacewaves of Dayton, Ohio. Mixing the brainy cloudbursts of Ride with the druggy swagger of Spacemen 3, the Partners bring the genre closer to earth with instantly hummable songs that are once affecting and remote.

By Jeffrey Rotter

"All Music Guide"

For better or worse, the copyright date on Daystar may as well read "1992" instead of a decade later: the Lab Partners craft such immaculately perfect dream pop that their music is virtually indistinguishable from forebears like Ride, the Swirlies, and the Drop Nineteens; a blow for originality, to be sure, but a treat for listeners who've never quite gotten over the shoegazer sound.

It's impossible to discuss Daystar without making comparisons to other bands, just as it's impossible to talk about the Strokes, Interpol, or the White Stripes without mentioning their own influences and reference points; contemporary rock & roll has become a snake swallowing its own tail, and what separates good music from bad is the aptitude and energy with which the artists in question reinterpret the past for today. And by that measure, the Lab Partners are very good at what they do, creating epic, narcotic drone rock on par with their inspirations. If you still hold a candle for the heyday of Creation Records, this is for you.
-Jason Ankeny


If one was to combine Galaxie 500's ethereal fireworks and Spaceman 3's jammier tendencies with a taste of Beulah's sappy harmonies, he or she might end up with something closely approximating Lab Partners, Dayton's answer to the age old question, "Where's the dreampop?" The results of this hybridization have been documented as Daystar, an exhaustingly comprehensive case-study on the effects produced through blending a core structure of blissful shoegazing with just enough poppy bounce to make said shoes tap every now and again...

...Lab Partners seem to have a brilliant grasp on the delicate science of crafting fuzzy drones for mopey kids, but brightening things up enough to keep people watching the skies instead of the floors. The preliminary results are decidedly positive. The sweet acoustic refrains and 60s pop harmonies of "Gold" are a strange and effective mixture of upbeat and bittersweet, and its jangly chords merge with the massive feedback theatrics that made space-rock famous on "Those Things". Beautifully strangled notes gasp for air through waves of feedback while the vocals glide just over top, clean and clear. It's lush, flowery music that easily lends itself to such lush, flowery description, and the early tests are a real success...

-Eric Carr, April 15th, 2003 -

"Cincinnati Citybeat - June 29, 2005"

By Mike Breen

With their flowing, dreamy take on AltPop, Dayton's Lab Partners have built a listenership and critical acclaim that stretches far beyond their Ohio homebase. Formed in 1998, the band gradually evolved to its current state, featuring singer/guitarist Mike Smith, keyboardist Amy Smith, drummer Todd Carll and guitarist Mike Volk (yes, despite their bass-y low-end, the band lacks a bassist). With 2002's fantastic Daystar album, the band's stock rose dramatically thanks to praiseful shout-outs from Spin and other national mags, solid radio support and opening slots on tours with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Warlocks (not to mention one-off dates with US Maple and Throwing Muses). The band has earned numerous comparisons to the archetypes of the "shoegaze" genre, from Ride to Spaceman 3 to My Bloody Valentine, and nearly all of them are fitting. The Partners are like a composite of the best elements of all the 'gazers, anchored by their own sense of melody and texturing.

For their new disc, Wicked Branches, they have moved from Dayton's Big Beef Records to Portland-based/RYKO-distributed indie Reverb Records (the disc is in stores July 19 but available on iTunes now). The album continues the group's trademark hazy but often punchy glaze, which takes the gauzy neo-psychedelia of the shoegazer sound and injects it with an extra "oomph" of melody and energy. Smith's vocals seem to be inching more to the forefront of the mix with every release, still sinking warmly into the band's trippy varnish (which also has grown more in-focus over time) but taking a more commanding role in the drizzling tapestry. Volk and Smith's guitar interplay switches between celestial chiming and more punctuating stabs, creating a riveting cascade that's equally powerful and lulling. Meanwhile, Carll is the perfect drummer for the LP sound, adding to the hypnotic nature by playing into and out of the cavernous dreamscapes with precision and flair. Smith's flowering keyboard additives, like the Dandy Warhols' Zia McCabe's, is the perfect cherry on top of the rest of the band's narcotic sundae. Look for Lab Partners' interstellar glide to attract even more fans with Wicked Branches, an even more amazing follow-up to a wonderful sophomore effort. - CITY BEAT

"The Big Takeover - Dec. 2005"

By Jack Rabid
As an unrepentant lover of the 1988-1992 shoegaze scene that grunge sadly killed, it's great to see there's still current bands blissing out on that gigantic sound's infinite possibilities. Dayton, OH quartet Lab Partners have been at it eight years, releasing a few Eps and a 73-minute blockbuster debut LP, Daystar. But after so long, their even more marvelous, 59-minute Wicked is a mesmeric update on where Velvet Underground, 1967 Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett), and the lofty Birds of "Eight Miles High" led to dreampoppers Ride and Chapterhouse, spacerockers like Spaceman 3, and trippyrockers like Verve. I guess we weren't the only ones who missed the bottomless production that put the quiver effect in every delay, chorus, reverb, and distortion pedal this group piles on its two guitars. But whereas modern dreampoppers stare too much at their navels, let alone their shoes, one imagines Lab Partners scanning the back rows of a theater, insisting the crowd pay heed to their epic, sonic vistas, Kevin Shields/MBV-like chord warping noise (see "Snow Covered Leaves"), and Michael Smith's proud, firm vocals. (No buried mumbler, he.) Even without a bassist - you won't notice, thanks to Amy Smith's left hand on keyboards - the dreamy but heavy, Chameleons-esque "This Life" and well named "Tidal Wave" boom out like the 4th of July. Turn this up and shake the walls! - BIG Takeover

"Transworld Surf Magazine - Oct. 2005"

It's great to get a CD from a band like the Lab Partners out of nowhere (actually, they're out of Dayton, Ohio). This band has shared stages with such notable acts as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Warlocks-meaning that yes, they probably are a pretty cool band. They have the same type of droning and smooth indie-rock sound as the previously mentioned acts, but they also have a subtle undertone of sultry brooding to their sound. Fans of BRMC, The Doves, and My Bloody Valentine will be very pleased with Lab Partners Wicked Branches. - Transworld Surf

"Venus Magazine - 2005"

Lab Partners
Wicked Branches (Reverb)
by Anne Johnson

When critics throw around words like "epic" to describe a band's sound, it could very easily turn off some people - permanently. Such language has been following Dayton, Ohio's Lab Partners since their 2002 debut, Daystar, and would not be inappropriate when referring to their latest release, Wicked Branches. For Lab Partners, the word is more a descriptor of their fertile, intricately layered, dreamy space pop that is, well, epic in scope. So temporarily forget any prog-rock associations you may have with the word - at least in this case.

Wicked Branches is certainly epic in length at a startling 59 minutes with frontman Michael Smith himself admitting the songs are long. Their length, however, does not feel indulgent. It simply feels as though something must be worked out musically before each song concludes. Every track is like an island unto itself and the album an archipelago connected by sonic sound bridges. Lab Partners have no bass player but keyboardist Amy Smith and drummer Todd Carll marvelously create enough bottom to ground the musical orbits of guitarist Mike Volk.

Lab Partners have been compared to everyone from My Bloody Valentine and early Verve to Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Though they have not really discovered any new galaxies musically, Wicked Branches is more than a solid effort.
- Venus

"Dayton Daily News - July 2005"

July 29, 2005

By Ron Rollins

Lab Partners
Wicked Branches
Grade: A-, but we might give an A in a few weeks after more listening. Daystar, the band's debut, improved greatly over time.

Progressive rock as baby boomers remember it never quite went away, but actually morphed into a sound that today is defined as much by fine-tuned craft and artfulness as by sheer sonic size.

That is, as currently practiced by a group of bands who are broad-ranging but still of a similar school - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Secret Machines, Interpol and others- the signature consists of dense, swirling whirlpools of music with a hard-edged but melodic bent, achieved with complex layering of guitars, heavy-duty effects and distortion and almost inhumanly oversized drums. Usually, it's pretty compelling stuff.

As practiced by Lab Partners, an excellent and quickly emerging band that's based right here in Dayton, it's also laced with an upbeat good humor and undeniable optimism that is often missing from a genre in which gloom and angst seem to naturally predominate. That's a good thing, by the way, that sets them apart from their pack.

Lab Partners - Michael Smith and Michael Volk on guitars, Amy Smith on keys, Todd Carll on drums - play on their new album with a seriousness, not to say a gravity, that shows an appreciation of their move up from the Dayton indie Big Beef label to the slightly larger Portland, Ore.-based Reverb - but which is also bolstered by a real-world sensibility that feels optimistic and wise. If it's not a gigantic step in labels, it is a step, and Lab Partners (one of the best recent band names we've heard, by the way) understand they're advancing and perform accordingly.

So Wicked Branches pulses with a hard, knotty energy that veers often toward the psychedelic, or whatever passes for it these days, and which the band itself calls "spacerock." Rather than get caught up any further in labels than we have here already, we'd rather just declare it as we hear it: straightforward, solid, and addictively listenable. The band seems perched on the threshold of leading Dayton's next wave of Great Bands the Rest of the World Needs to Hear, a place recently vacated by Guided by Voices and looking for a new standard-bearer. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our nominee.

iPod picks: It's How You Feel, Tidal Wave, Wicked Branches.
- Cox Ohio Publishing

"Skyscraper Magazine - Dec. 2005"

Lab Partners
Wicked Branches (Reverb)
by Michael Snyder

On their second full-length, Dayton, Ohio's Lab Partners have upped the "rock" in their appealing brand of neo-space rock. While still absorbing some of the influence of early nineties U.K. dream-pop, Wicked Branches shows the band forging their own unique sound, with more power and clarity. Mike Volk and Mike Smith's (ex-Honeyburn) intertwining, chiming guitars impress throughout the record. Amy Smith's held organ and keyboard chords create yet another layer on the sonic dreamcake, suggesting the former role of Kate Radley in the Spiritualized of the nineties, but since the band lacks a bassist, she covers much of the low end too. Some of the punchy dynamics of Swervedriver can be heard on "Blood Moon," which intriguingly superimposes a 3/4 feel over a 4/4 meter in parts. With more energy and drive, and Mike Smith's warm vocals a little higher in the mix than on their debut, Wicked Branches could be called post-shoegazer rock. "Now" is a hooky, punchy number spurred by insistent drums, while "It's How You Feel" is powerful yet dreamy, with sustained, languid harmonies. The creative use of tremolo bar on the guitar creates a Kevin Shields-like feeling of sensory disorientation. Having toured with The Warlocks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lab Partners reveal themselves to be worthy peers of these better-known spacey bands, clearly deserving wider attention.
- Skyscraper


* Moonlight Music - LP (February 2010) - Pravda Music

* Keep Quiet - EP (April 2007) - Reverb Records

* Wicked Branches - LP (July 2005 Ryko Dist.) - Reverb Records

* "Love Don't Care" song (2005) - Featured on Little Radio compilation (

* "Now" song (2004) - Reverb Records FuzzyBall Compilation.

* Daystar - LP (2002) Big Beef Records - streaming audio on

* Turn it On - EP (2000)

* Lab Partners - self titled - EP (1999)



From the creatively fertile grounds of Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers and the birth of flight, comes a new type of onward and upward venture, this time of the aural realm by veteran indie spacerockers LAB PARTNERS. Lab Partners' sound washes over you with heavy doses of celestial vocals and melodic guitars. Their massive presence is driven by larger than life drums and pulsing synth bass. With an emotional purity, Lab Partners do far more than write amazing songs, they create a dense atmosphere of true rebellion.

Formed in 1998 by guitarist/vocalist MIKE SMITH and KEVIN PARRETT (A Ten OClock Scholar), the duo soon added keyboardist AMY SMITH to round out the lineup. In 1999, drummer MATT SCHULZ, who has been a longtime collaborator with Mike Smith dating back from their days together in Honeyburn joined the band. Schulz went on to perform full- time duty with Enon and Holy F*ck. Veteran guitarist MIKE VOLK (Honeyburn, Cigarhead) came on board in late in 2001, when Kevin Parrett left to pursue other interests. Over the years, Lab Partners has had a fair share of drummers such as Ian Kaplan, Todd Carll, and Kevin Vaughn (Heartless Bastards). Today Lab Partners' drum work is handled by JIM MACPHERSON (The BreedersGuided By Voices).

Over the past 14 years, the band has put out 3 full length albums as well as several EPs. A new album, Seven Seas, is set to be released in early 2014. Moonlight Music, featured 14 songs and was released in March 2010 by Chicagos PRAVDA RECORDS. 2005's Wicked Branches and 2007's Keep Quiet e.p. was released on Portland's Reverb Records. 2002's Daystarwas released on Dayton's Big Beef Records and garnered reviews from SPIN Magazine and Under the Radar. Lab Partners also self produced two early recordings Lab Partnersreleased in 1999 and Turn It On released in 2000.

Lab Partners has played several highly-regarded festivals over the course of their career, including: CMJ Music Festival in 2002 (New York), CMJ Rock Hall Music Festival in 2005 (Cleveland), South by Southwest Music Festival in both 2006 and 2007 (Austin). The band has two WOXY.COM Live Lounge Axe Sessions available for download via Itunes.

The band has toured numerous times over the United States and shared the stage with such acts as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Warlocks, The High Dials, Throwing Muses, Mark Gardener, The Black Angels, Spectrum, The Sky Drops, Adam Franklin, and Paik.

Band Members