Music

Siberian: With Me

Seattle-area sad rockers build angsty, echoey castles of sound out of altered guitars; big, booming drums; and emotionally fraught vocals...it's like the Twilight Sad minus the accents.


Siberian

With Me

Label: Sonic Boom
US Release Date: 2007-10-23
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Siberian emerged in Seattle about three years ago, on the strength of a samizdat cassette demo, four songs long, and followed early this year by a more polished six song EP, Hey Celestial. "Paper Birds", the strongest song from With Me, the debut full-length, also appeared on the EP, but the rest is entirely new material, indicating a band that has, at a fairly early stage of their development, found a cohesive, consistent, compelling sound.

That sound is heavily influenced by the shoe-gazers' love of layered, pedal-altered guitars, as well as the emotional directness and dynamic variety of American emo. You can hear little bits of U2 anthemic-ness, Smiths-ish mope lyrics and post-rock-ish tempo and time signature shifts. And yet, it's also rather distinctive, relying on chiming, shivering walls of distortion, plaintive vocals and pounding drum beats. They sound a great deal like the Scottish band the Twilight Sad, though perhaps without the scathing self-scrutiny that tempers their grandiosity. This is guitar music that aspires to large scale and -- even on a small budget -- mostly achieves it, without any concessions to self-doubt or irony.

The best of these songs is "Paper Birds", its guitar line spiraling out of a buzz of distortion, its beat pushing forward and pulling back at the same time. There's a sinuous, snaky quality to the verse, the guitar undulating in an eighth-note pattern, the bass pulsing ominously, as the drums provide a back-slanting rhythm. Singer Finn Parnell is almost speaking the lines, here, spitting them. It is about as unlyrical as a guitar pop song can be. But hold on for it; there's a really luminous -- almost radioactively glowing -- guitar slide, and you're in the chorus. This section of the song, joined somehow, but entirely different from what's come so far, is as flowery and harmonic and doomedly romantic as any Joy Division song. There's a flutter in Parnell's voice, a massed march of guitar chords, an indefinable upward loft to the chorus.

Of the remaining songs, "Wolf and Crane" is almost as good, the minimally-arranged verse backed mostly by thud of bass and drums, the chorus a dense thicket of sustained guitars. The loud-soft, aggressive-sensitive, sparse-annihilating dynamic has, of course, been done before. It can be a cliché. Yet when done well, and linked effectively by a singer who can find the rock in the soft parts and pathos in the loud ones, it is a very good thing indeed.

Dynamic drama is the key to Siberian's success, but also, over extended listening, its downfall. It's the sort of device that works best in modest doses; over a full album's length it starts to feel bombastic. Too many crescendos is a little like the boy who cried wolf. After a while, you just don't believe them any more. Still, it's a good start album, with mostly solid songs and one or two genuine keepers ("Paper Birds" and "Wolf and Crane"). Siberian's definitely a band to keep an eye on.

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Jennifer Kelly
Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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