Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods (Review)

One of the many more promising virtues of the later generations - more recent than, say, Nebuchadnezzer, Socrates, Bathsheba, and the peeps I used to hang with - is an eager willingness to experiment, hybridize, and try all kindsa stuff that was unknown even in the hallowed days of Can, Cluster, Henry Cow, Comus (I seem to be alliterating C's today), and all the baddest actors of the Late Pleistocene. Sure, the 70s set the stage for and through the decades that followed, but the material being produced now is astonishing for its broadening of boundaries, the pushing back of horizons, and a plumbing of depths heretofore never cognized. In essence, the new onset in whole is a progression rooted in progrock, a VERY heatedly debated term, and the ushering in, finally, of the beginnings of a new era. Whether that swell will crest and break all over the place, drenching terra firma and sprouting a new landscape, remains to be seen. Silversun Pickups, an L.A. band, has been lurking in the occulted nightside of the amorphous wave for years and can't quite seem to break through to a proper place.

This also "afflicted" Remy Zero, Don Caballero, and a number of earlier ensembles who likewise had few problems shattering various demarcation lines, to whatever extent one may say eventuated. The problem, of course, lies in the still extent exposure/distribution systems, and the cure is not apparent, everything fairly frozen on the topside. Meanwhile, groups aren't standing still, and if you're already hip to this band's earlier releases, their latest is less psycheproganoiselicious while more, for lack of a better phrase, alt chart prepped, stripped down, less effulgent, somewhat naked, esp. in cuts like "Here We Are (Chancer)". This is both good and bad. On the one hand, a number of tracks remind me of one of my favorite obscure muso's work: Karen Orsi and her enclaves (Herd of Mers, Overflower, etc.), oft with progdrummerhusband John. To my ears, Neck of the Woods and Orsi's bands succeed where Hugo Largo, Polyrock, Parachute Club, and others rather markedly failed to produce a truly convincing alt sound that managed to both advance noticeably and still hold sufficient resonances to evoke memory into the affair. Most often, what were claimed as gigantic advances were little more than baby steps.

While roothogging at Amoeba Records last month (not far from SP's Silverlake digs), a mercantile music shrine better known as 'Mecca' to we demented record hound pilgrims, I chanced upon an advance copy of a CD-R titled Album Instrumentals in the Silversuns slot…which I don't find on their website, perhaps never formally released, but which cleaves much more closely to what I'd heard in the previous Carnavaras and Swoon, more adventurous and spacey than this present effort. Yet Neck holds many virtues. The problem is that more than a few of us were hoping they'd join Porcupine Tree in helping to reinvigorate the prog scene. That, mind you, is nothing on them but rather just wistful desire on our part. Still…many indications existed that this might happen.

And that's my verdict on Neck of the Woods: I like it, it reminds me of musics I slaver with a fair degree ofmucoidal exudations over, but the barometer still feels like they haven't arrived at their true manifestation, "Simmer" a damn good positive exemplar. That cut stands up and sprints breakneck and heady into the stratosphere, dragging you with it before you know what's happening, so, hm, my strongest suspicion? Silversun needs another guitarist. Everything here and even in previous material just screaming out for it. Mark my words. If they expand just a bit, they'll explode. It's what they're supposed to do. Grab this, well worth it, it rocks, but then tell me if I'm not right.

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