An Ignored Gem of Portland Rock New music

Hidden GEMS
An Neglected Gem of Portland Rock New music


Al Melchior

May well 16, 2022

Portland-centered musician and songwriter Casey Neill has not been concerned to improve his audio from 1 album to the upcoming. When he introduced Brooklyn Bridge in 2007, he eschewed the Celtic- and people-affected seem that shaped the foundation for his work heading back to the mid-’90s for a fuller-sounding indie rock come to feel. Eleven a long time later on, Neill and his band manufactured significant alterations to their sound again. On his 3 past albums (the latter two with The Norway Rats), Neill’s seem is dominated by electrical guitar, bass, and drums. On 2018’s Subterrene, he and The Norway Rats took but yet another transform, introducing synths and drum machines to the combine.

Although the audio of Subterrene might be unfamiliar to people who know Neill’s before albums, numerous of the contributors are acquainted names. Jeff “The Chet” Lyster of Eels co-wrote every single of the tracks, and in a 2019 interview, Neill cited him as remaining instrumental to the album’s new direction. Neill has been a essential, though a lot less identified, member of the Portland indie scene for many years, and a number of distinguished Portland-primarily based musicians lend their skills to Subterrene. Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) equally conduct on “In the Swim,” with the latter also co-crafting the music with Neill and Lyster. No fewer than three current or previous associates of the Decemberists (Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Jesse Emerson, and Ezra Holbrook) are aspect of the Norway Rats’s lineup for this album.

Though Neill assembled a amazing group of musicians, most likely the most notable aspect of Subterrene is the transform in his vocals. The gruffness that characterized his previously do the job is long gone, and his singing on this album is somehow equally mellower and a lot more forceful. On songs like “Savages,” “Everyone Wishes To Be Identified,” and “Darken Down,” the spacious arrangements provide Neill’s vocals entrance and center, supplying them a rawness and vulnerability that properly express the messages about leaving and staying left that recur throughout numerous of Subterrene’s 10 tracks.

Album opener “My Beloved Accomplice” alerts that this album is likely to be a departure from Neill’s prior releases spacey, layered keyboards carefully crescendo in direction of the very first of several ringing guitar chords and cymbal crashes to come. The accompanying lyrics are just as engaging: “Hail the drunken laureate/ Spray Rust-Oleum down the block.” It is an irresistible invitation to follow Neill’s tale of his marriage with his accomplice, a “queen of hopeless causes” who can “blend the waking globe with aspiration.”

Neill has been composing and recording gorgeous, shifting music for a extensive time, but the alterations in instrumentation and generation on Subterrene heighten the listening experience. Folks unfamiliar with Neill’s music will uncover good quality albums between his earlier do the job, but Subterrene is an excellent entry stage for an exploration of a single of Portland’s most neglected musicians.

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