Friday 17 January 2014

Silent Lions - The Compartments

EP review by

It's been a year or so since we were first introduced to Ohio pairing Silent Lions with their first EP 'The Parliaments', a name we suggested man be a tribute to soul legend George Clinton, as the Silent Lions sound has its roots in soul as much as it does garage-rock. Now based in Detroit, Dean Tartaglia and Matt Klein have gathered the views and the descriptions of many other people's ears, and this quote from the press release of new EP 'The Compartments' is pretty amazing: "their music has been tagged as "spooky soul," "chill punk" and "Hall and Oates stoner rock." Whoever came up with "Hall and Oates stoner rock" deserves a medal, not because it's accurate as such, more for having the imagination to dream it up. The latest record sees Silent Lions progress their music more, so none of those descriptions quite fit, but "spooky soul" if you combine it with the "punk" and "stoner" elements probably wouldn't fall foul of the trade descriptions act. The self-styled supergroup (both are in other bands) is more accurate this time around as well, as they have Zach Shipps from Electric Six as producer and unofficial third member, so the "group" tag is starting to be less of a gag. The six songs here show a ferocity that perhaps wasn't there before. The opening line of 'The Correspondents' is "You hit me", and this seems somehow fitting, as these songs do at times feel as though they're giving you a metaphorical battering.

'Runnin' Me Down' is one of the most soulful cuts and it also has a deep stoner groove to it. There's also an intensity and complexity to the overall sound: there may be some subtlety to different sections of the instrumentation and production, but together they're a furious and relentless noise that stays until the EP's close. There's a near-industrial-rock feel about the pounding intro to 'Stolen In The Heat Of The Moment', but the vocals are rich and powerful, adding a real contrast to the music which seems to flail uncontrollably for periods before pausing to take a break and then attacking once more. 'Crash & Burn' is a modern disco track that could have been a big hit had it been given to a well-known act and given a slick makeover, but here the layers of distortion and electrical squiggles hold it firmly in the left-field, and that's before we mention the grinding guitars. There is brief time to pause for breath and allow your eardrums to at least partially repair themselves. 'Condition' is less abrasive and shows that deftness of touch that the band are capable of, although the mid-section lays on the noise to remind you just what this EP is about. Once that's passed it fades out in a hazy and chilled way. Beats like gunshots ring out repeatedly as the aptly-named 'Everybody Freeze' crunches its way into being as a modern electro-rock track that could be an adaption of an old Curtis Mayfield song; they never let the soul slip away and even venture into free jazz briefly towards the end. If you think you're brain will be spared with a more reflective closer then you'd be mistaken. The vocals are perhaps a touch different, but the deep bass rumble and battering drums never let up. As with those descriptions of their sound, their name is only partially correct. Silent? No way. Lions? Hell yeah.

Silent Lions' website

Stream or buy EP

Catch them live:

Jan. 17 Chicago, IL — Quencher’s
Jan. 18 Lafayette, IN — The Bayou
Jan. 19 Bloomington, IN — Root Cellar
Jan. 20 Muncie, IN — Be Here Now
Jan. 22 Charleston, WV — Empty Glass
Jan. 23 Morganton, WV — 123 Pleasant St.
Jan. 24 Washington, D.C. — Jam Jar
Jan. 25 Washington, D.C. — Ezra Mae’s
Jan. 27 Boston, MA — Middle East
Jan. 28 Brooklyn, NY — Muchmores
Jan. 29 Pittsburgh, PA — The Spot
Jan. 31 Pittsburgh, PA — Brillobox
Feb. 1 Athens, OH — 2112
Feb. 4 Huntington, WV — Elimination Chamber
Feb. 5 Cincinnati, OH — Mayday
Feb. 6 Dayton, OH — Jimmie’s Ladder 11
Feb. 7 Toledo, OH — Ottawa Tavern

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