Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silkworm - Firewater (1996)


For fans of: Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Mission of Burma

Full of slacker energy, this music doesn't seem to care about having a clean or cohesive sound, but throws ideas around freely and sounds like some of the most natural indie rock there is. They're always on the edge of excellence here, swinging back and forth from really good to great and mustering up some exiting and memorable melodies here and there within each song. Loose guitar solos rage over the top of consistent drums and a meandering bass. It's noisy, honest, and gloriously wide-ranging. - Matthew Foster

"It's a difficult thing to have too many cooks in the kitchen, especially when all of them are iron chefs. Joel Phelps' semi-forced exit made a big difference. On one hand, it was bad: Phelps was an integral part of the band since its inception. And on the other, it was good: the pared-down sound fit the band well, and that's quite evident on the four-sided Firewater. Left to two voices, the band produces its most cohesive and precise set, despite it being their most broad; Firewater clocks in with 16 tracks at an hour long. Not a minute is wasted, and everything sounds more measured and relaxed. Lyrically, the themes of each song tie in with a couple concepts in mind, not suffering from the somewhat schizo topics of previous LPs. As the lone guitarist, Cohen spreads his wings, turning in some lengthy solos. At times, his scorchy leads seem twice as loud as the bass and drums, but it's called for each time. Midgett's thick bass becomes more of a centerpiece than an anchor, sounding its thickest yet. Stripped bare to the degree of sounding awkward on the first few listens, a couple songs rely mainly on light rhythms and little else. The record's themes of alienation and inebriation are balanced by spells of dark humor. Cohen is always reliable for the occasional zinger, and Midgett's woes-of-the-road "Miracle Mile" provides many yuks at the band's expense. Also, the occasional cathartic yelping and complex structures seem to be done away with, in favor of more classic influences (the Stones-y "Lure of Beauty") and decreasing tangential incidents. Though one hates to say it in the wake of Phelps, Firewater sounds like a band that's just lost its training wheels -- fuller yet less cluttered." - AMG

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