PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Bottomless Pit: Shade Perennial

Loping tempos and cryptic sonorous vocals mesh with jaggedly beautiful washes of sound, fostering auditory earworms that will burrow Wrath of Khan-style into your brain.

Bottomless Pit

Shade Perennial

Label: Comedy Minus One
US Release Date: 2013-10-29
UK Release Date: 2013-10-29

Chicago quartet Bottomless Pit is among the best bands that the United States has to offer currently, but few arrive to the Bottomless Pit party without carnal knowledge of Silkworm, the Windy City by way of Missoula and Seattle trio that spawned a rabid following in the latter part of the last century. Before being tragically derailed by the shocking car accident that killed their drummer and two other friends almost a decade ago, Silkworm tenured on Matador and Touch and Go Records for much of their existence. Frankly, they sounded like it, sporting quality songwriting and angular guitar that made the most of a powerhouse rhythm section. The tragic death of drummer Michael Dahlquist in July 2005 put Silkworm to rest (see the exceptional SKWM doc Couldn’t You Wait), but remaining members Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett moved forward, founding Bottomless Pit later that year.

Bottomless Pit sallied forth as a four-member franchise, adding ex-Seam drummer Chris Manfrin and bassist Brian Orchard (.22) to man the engine room. While Midgett and Cohen continued to share vocal and songwriting duties, the new endeavor was most notable sonically for Midgett having moved from the bass to baritone guitar. Late period Silkworm featured keyboards from Biznono Kadane (Bedhead), but the baritone guitar is definitely the secret weapon for Bottomless Pit. The jagged sonority of low guitar dovetails nicely with the bass, adding delicious contrast to the jagged Cohen guitar parts. Two full-length releases sandwiched an EP, coming via Garden State transplant Jon Solomon (ex-My Pal God Records) and his new indie label Comedy Minus One. The recordings struck a chord with the indie rock cognoscenti. Touring was scant, but the foursome was able to tour intermittently, scoring high profile slots at ATP and various Shellac curated endeavors that kept them in the public eye.

Personal and professional affairs keep Bottomless Pit active in fits and starts, but sessions with Steve Albini commenced in Chicago early last year for album number three. The result is an exceptional recording that lives up to its name: beyond the stellar music Shade Perennial has the best correlation of cover art and music therein of any band I’ve seen in recent history. Sporting latticed metal sculptures of horses caught against grey skies, the image embodies the Bottomless Pit aesthetic perfectly. Loping tempos and cryptic sonorous vocals mesh with jaggedly beautiful washes of sound, fostering auditory earworms that will burrow Wrath of Khan-style into your brain.

The eight songs on Shade Perennial pass in cinematically epic fashion over a mere half-hour, averaging three minutes or so, yet seemingly much more sprawling in scope. Longer pieces bookend the record, the opening Fleece setting the scene with a stark baritone guitar figure before the band soars into motion. A half-dozen short sharp shocks follow before the closing “Felt a Little Left” sears the proceedings to a close. Featuring an extended guitar coda from Cohen that hearkens back to classic Silkworm workouts like Slow Burn, the closer gets high marks for the burn factor. “Sacred Trench” gets the nod for the best of the eight tracks here, but whether you come for the music, lyrics or both, Bottomless Pit and Shade Perennial do not disappoint.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.