Tuesday, March 29, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE SWALLOWS - DEMYSTIFIED
We assume that people who play in the same band feel the same way about music, and like the same sounds. This is an assumption that is easily disproved time and again, and often, it's the drummer who does it. Take Charlie Watts, a known jazz fiend. Keith Moon was a die-hard Beach Boys fan, and not the later, cool Pet Sounds stuff, he loved the old surf music. Mr. Glenn Milchem of Blue Rodeo creates music under The Swallows name, four albums now, and you sure can't hear any Blue Rodeo in this album. I'm just as big a sucker for Keelor and Cuddy as the next Canadian music fan, but I'm also more than open to Milchem's brand of rock.
Rock it is, jagged, noisy, indie, cool rock. Milchem works on these discs from the ground up, writing and then playing and recording each part, usually with minimal guest artists. This time though, there's
quite a bit of help, from his live show pals in The Swallows, and a couple of guests, Julie Fader and Bob Packwood on keys. As more folks got involved, and more tracks added, the sound Milchem thought he was going for changed substantially. The result was loud, and powerful. The title cut features searing guitar, and a pulsing, driving drum track. Milchem is a fine writer, with non-typical words and phrases: "If the earth starts to pitch and sway/I know a place to get away" comes from Secret City, a mysterious little number that opens with some oscillating noise that mimics a spy searching for a hidden frequency. There are lots of rewards like that throughout.
Lead track Shoot Out Sparks is a love song well-disguised. Written for his wife, the track features Television-like raging and mathematical intersecting guitar lines, dueling with Milchem's vocals, telling us about the electrical impulses shooting out sparks. It may not be a Hallmark valentine, but I'd be proud of that one if I was Mrs. Milchem. He's a cool singer too. This is brainy and energetic music, but just don't expect the Blue Rodeo sound.