An Disregarded Gem of Portland Rock Tunes

Concealed GEMS
An Disregarded Gem of Portland Rock New music


Al Melchior

May well 16, 2022

Portland-based musician and songwriter Casey Neill has not been afraid to transform his sound from a person album to the subsequent. When he launched Brooklyn Bridge in 2007, he eschewed the Celtic- and folk-motivated sound that shaped the foundation for his work likely back again to the mid-’90s for a fuller-sounding indie rock really feel. Eleven yrs later, Neill and his band built significant alterations to their sound yet again. On his a few earlier albums (the latter two with The Norway Rats), Neill’s seem is dominated by electric guitar, bass, and drums. On 2018’s Subterrene, he and The Norway Rats took however one more change, introducing synths and drum machines to the blend.

Although the audio of Subterrene may well be unfamiliar to these who know Neill’s earlier albums, quite a few of the contributors are common names. Jeff “The Chet” Lyster of Eels co-wrote every of the tracks, and in a 2019 interview, Neill cited him as becoming instrumental to the album’s new route. Neill has been a key, though significantly less acknowledged, member of the Portland indie scene for many years, and numerous popular Portland-primarily based musicians lend their abilities to Subterrene. Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) both of those carry out on “In the Swim,” with the latter also co-creating the tune with Neill and Lyster. No less than a few 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.

Whilst Neill assembled a outstanding team of musicians, maybe the most notable factor of Subterrene is the transform in his vocals. The gruffness that characterized his before do the job is absent, and his singing on this album is someway each mellower and additional forceful. On music like “Savages,” “Everyone Would like To Be Identified,” and “Darken Down,” the spacious arrangements provide Neill’s vocals entrance and middle, offering them a rawness and vulnerability that effectively express the messages about leaving and becoming still left that recur across quite a few of Subterrene’s 10 tracks.

Album opener “My Beloved Accomplice” indicators that this album is likely to be a departure from Neill’s prior releases spacey, layered keyboards carefully crescendo towards the first of lots of ringing guitar chords and cymbal crashes to appear. The accompanying lyrics are just as partaking: “Hail the drunken laureate/ Spray Rust-Oleum down the block.” It is an irresistible invitation to abide by Neill’s tale of his romance with his accomplice, a “queen of hopeless causes” who can “blend the waking globe with desire.”

Neill has been crafting and recording gorgeous, moving tunes for a long time, but the improvements in instrumentation and production on Subterrene heighten the listening practical experience. People unfamiliar with Neill’s new music will locate top quality albums amid his earlier work, but Subterrene is an perfect entry position for an exploration of one of Portland’s most missed musicians.

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