In support of their fall jaunt across North America, Silversun Pickups have released a free four song EP featuring a live track from each band on the tour. An innovative way to get a taste of what you’re in for, should you decide to save your tips from Starbucks and spend a night out on the town.
Cloud Nothings – “Stay Useless” (Live At The Grog Shop)
Rollicking indie infused with some slick pop punk chord changes. The vocals are reminiscent of an early Replacements track (but faster and heavier). It could easily be on a soundtrack for a mid-90s teen movie, but still has enough lo-fi snarl to remain cool enough to get some Pitchforkers nodding their Supreme hats up and down.
School of Seven Bells – “White Wind” (Live Session)
The hypnotic rhythm section groove could have easily been lifted off of any Silver Sun track, but they say imitation is the sincerest form of taking someone else’s sound and changing it a little. There are some fun synth arpeggios and vocoder stabs but the vocals tend to take on the personality of another keyboard part, there isn’t much humanity to them. School Of Seven Bells try to achieve the hypnotic elements of the Silversun Pickups but fail to deliver on the memorable hooks that carry their songs into the mainstream consciousness. Synth trickery aside, the track is flat.
Atlas Genius (Crown City Studio) – “Trojans”
If you’re going to record a sparse and intimate acoustic track, you’d better have something interesting to say or have a voice good enough to make me not give a shit. Neither present in this song. Seemingly about a condom getting lost in this man’s head, or maybe it’s a metaphor, you know how songwriters like to use those. No but seriously, at least if this song was about a condom I wouldn’t have to ponder about how boring it was because I’d be too busy chuckling at how awesome it is that someone would write a song about a used condom.
Silversun Pickups – “The Pit” (Live On Letterman)
“The Pit” is pretty standard Silversun fare as far a singles go. Intimate verse, dramatic prechorus, big chorus, bigger verse, dramatic prechorus, BIIIIG CHORUS, with some interesting sounding keyboards parts thrown in for good measure. The band isn’t really taking too many chances on this track but if it ain’t broke, you sure as f**k shouldn’t fix it on live TV. “The Pit” certainly delivers on what’s made the Silversun Pickups a relevant and popular band over the past few years, but fails to breach any new territories. I haven’t delved too far into the SP catalog but their singles all seem to maintain this driving dynamic between Chris Guanlao (drums) and Nikki Monninger (bass/vocals) and rely very heavily on Brian Aubert (vocals) to provide the dynamic shift and at times, it sounds like he’s on one level, and they’re somewhere completely different. I suppose it’s worked for them in the past but there’s a difference between having a sound and sounding formulaic. I wouldn’t mind something a little weirder from them.