Friday, October 17, 2014

Savages - Silence Yourself - 2013

Do bands that start off an album with an extended, quiet intro, in reality, use it to get the listener to turn the volume way up so that when the loud music kicks in, they are blown right out of their loafers?  The VVers think that is the case with Savages Silence Yourself.  Sneaky!

Lead singer, Jehnny Beth's vocals include screaming, but a rhythmic-screaming, not just angry yells.  She is totally in control of her effortlessly powerful yowl.  She has a deep-toned voice reminiscent of Grace Slick, a growl of muscular prettiness akin to PJ Harvey, and especially channels the arty-poetressness of  Patti Smith.  She can run up and down the scales too!  The all out moaning shouts at the end of "I Am Here" certainly are accurate to the song title.  When she sings the lyric "silence yourself" during the closing song "Marshal Dear" she poignantly pronounces it - seelence.  Is it because she's French?  Punk is what it is, so anything goes.

Silence Yourself is mostly super high-energy, but with plenty of slower tempo drawls, guitar distortion, feedback, and deep bass lines.  The eerie, heavy sound is very much like 1990's Tool.  "City's Full" is a great example of Savage's raw intensity and musicianship coupled with a masterful understanding on tension.  Plenty of space is left between instruments and vocals here adding to the dank vibe.  "We dance all night, but when comes sunlight, you say, I'm going back home... OH!"  You will be slam dancing in no time.

The spare sleeve reveals that the band recorded in London with Duke Garwood.  He plays the almost cartoonish clarinet solo that ends the album.  It sounds just like the more melodic cousin of the dilapidated escalator at the VVers' nearby metro stop.  Mr. Garwood's name recently entered the home collection as he partnered on Mark Lanagan's Black Pudding.  How bout that?  The cover artwork is a hyper noir photo of the band on a manilla background.  In case there was any doubt, these are some noir ladies.  A serious poem adorns the front which for a debut album is pretty stark.  Fine print on the back of the inner and outer sleeves states "Don't let the fuckers get you down."  They must really mean it because it's there twice.

The VVers knew nothing about Savages until this debut LP was holiday gifted from VVer #2's brother, who, on occasion, is known to have the inside track on some quality music.  Along with the equally heavy Melt Banana, this album made up half of a vinyl present that the entire family wouldn't enjoy during the holidays.  What were the vagabonds to do?  Save it for when the folks aren't around so they could really crank it!  Loud, loud, loud!

When VVer-brother was asked for any insight on the album as inspiration for this write-up, he responded "It's good."  Profound!  The VVer's predicted last year that they would spend a lot of time listening to this one and that's been an understatement.  Each spin of Silence Yourself reveals different sounds more rewarding than the last.   Repeated listens are no small thing in the VVers' lair of vinyl.  It is good.

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