The Silvermen,
Incendiary Luminary
(Shindig, 2003)

Every song on Incendiary Luminary seems like an answer or reinterpretation of the best musical themes from the 1950s and '60s golden oldies and pop-culture country. On the first track, the Silvermen bust out with "Lawman," which features an amazing whooping-inducing guitar riff followed by a frantic and elusive pace. Think of a latter-day version of Merle Haggard's "Good Old Boys" from The Dukes of Hazzard or Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down" from Smokey & the Bandit.

Later tracks show they know their music history while simultaneously knowing their own sound. "My Girl" uses a song title forever connected to that era and turns it on its head with a hard-rock energetic beat and quickly quipped lyrics. "She Doesn't Walk" is a derivative love song with the sentimentality of the late '50s ballads without all that ear-splitting crooning. Also, it won't take a Ph.D. in pop music to hear the Chuck Berry "Johnny Be Good" influence in "Love Shakin' Blues Plain' King."

Incendiary Luminary is a blend of retro cool, odd self-awareness and contemporary experimental sounds. The "retro cool" factor should be obvious once you press play. Their odd self-awareness shows up in a variety of places, but is best displayed in "'57 Starchief." Although the song is titled after a classically cool ride, it's actually an introspective ditty about their creative process. Some of the experimental sounds include studio cuts, behind-the-scenes dialogue and other interesting bits that most performers exclude on their albums. My guess is most fear this "revealing" stuff weakens the composition of the album, but in my book it further displays their eccentric accessibility.

The Silvermen manage to surpass any notions of being an imitative tribute band in both performance and intent. The songs are indubitably inspired by and utilize elements from "golden oldies" yet convey fresh innovation and unique composition. It's quite a quandary, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 24 October 2004

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