I wrote this. New Silverstein actually fucking kills, as weird as that may sound.
It would seem some 15 or so years after its conception and with the advent of bands like Design the Skyline, the last angsty, mascara-black tear has been wrung out of screamo; clearly, alt-scene veterans Silverstein got that memo. At just over 19 minutes and with eleven out of 22 songs old-school punk and hardcore covers (imaginatively culled, in this reviewer’s opinion, from Steve Albini’s wet-dream-fantasy-all-star-basement-show roster of the scene’s most groundbreaking and influential bands), it almost seems like Short Songs was written and recorded with music critics in mind—almost. Silverstein’s latest effort is hard-hitting and fresh, yet tinged with unapologetic nostalgia and notions of, dare we say, the kind of proto-musical education and understanding in which many fans today are ostensibly lacking.
Short Songs is not for the weak of heart or constitution. Starting out with “Sick As Your Secrets” and blazing through ten more originals, none of which cross the two-minute mark, the entire first half of the record is one ADD-addled, frenetic, furious gut-blow after another. For the most part, Silverstein’s eleven originals aren’t too emphatic on sounding especially original in terms of tone or musical notions. Instead and perhaps more importantly, the band looks backwards in terms of drawing influence. For example, one can easily pick up on the old-school pop-punk notions of “Brookfield” or the obvious pit calls in “SOS.” Most are of these cuts are intense and fast-paced, meant to shine in a live setting where the demand for a circle pit or a bout of two-stepping is undeniable.
Single reviews are fun to write. I think I’ll write another, today.
Minnesota’s Now, Now (formerly Now, Now Every Children) have existed for some time but have really begun to generate a significant amount of buzz in the indie world since signing to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab For Cutie) Trans Records. The first single off their upcoming album Threads, “Dead Oaks,” is a short, sweet indie-pop gem that is infectiously catchy while keeping things incredibly simple, both musically and lyrically.
Clocking in at a modest one minute, forty-one seconds, “Dead Oaks” is unassuming in its lack of sophistication. The cut starts with some soft, palm-muted acoustic guitar riffing and a cutesy vocal line with coy, romantically-inclined lyrical work. After the first verse, some lo-fi percussion and lead guitar accompany the vocals, which benefit from some pop backing harmonies, as well. The song continues hinge around pop nuance with a healthy dose of “oh-oh’s” and tambourine shaking, then halts abruptly, everything ceasing, save for the same lone acoustic riff that started the song.