Silkworm - In The West (1994)

Finding a deep foundation in rhythmic post-punk and almost-funky basslines from Tim Midgett, In the West successfully dislocates Silkworm from obvious influences. A three-headed songwriting team -- matched with love for vaguely danceable beats and occasional guitar cacophony -- liken them to Mission of Burma, but nothing here truly sounds like them. But similar to Burma, the pointiness of the guitars is balanced by warm, thick rhythms. Somehow, the band avoids sounding derivative. It would be easy for a four-piece with a knack for noise to step all over each other's toes, resulting in a boggled mess, but only during momentary blasts of cathartic guitar wailing does this become problematic. Otherwise, the wide spaces provided in the likes of "Garden City Blues," "Parsons," and "Enough Is Enough" are effective, making the sonic barrages all that more special. Having three distinct songwriters in one band lends itself to a lack of cohesion, but that's forgiven through the excellence of each one. Joel Phelps' dramatic, scorched soul bearing is brought to the fore on "Dremate," resting uneasily for three minutes and eventually letting go, ending in screams chilling enough to make any emo vocalist run for mama. Whether Midgett's going on about romantic tension or his home town, frustration, wistfulness, and resentment flow throughout. Lines like "Enough is enough/Well come on/Give it up" read like a WASP song on paper, but Midgett's delivery is full of self-flagellation and fraught nerves. Andy Cohen adds one of the band's famed history songs on "Dust My Broom," name-checking General Pershing.

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