My life hurts right now, my broken tooth is starting to feel like a broken tooth, my little vacation away from my normal job is ending tomorrow, and a friend I’m very fond of disappeared completely without a trace, possibly due to alien abduction. For this reason, and this reason alone, it is time to talk about Silage and their final album, Vegas Car Chasers:
Indeed, short-lived Christian Rock band Silage only ever put out two albums, one of which I have already talked about. The interesting thing about these two albums is that they are extremely different from each other, all the way down to the lineup. On Watusi, the singing was done by one dude, on Vegas Car Chasers, he switches places with the lead guitarist, who takes the helm on a fair share of the song’s killer tracks.
The sound, overall, went from being an interesting take on pop-punk infused with some goofy rap and junior high level trombone playing to a more refined, pop-tastic, alternative rock sound that occasionally harkens to a more glitzy set of tones and attitudes, hence the “Vegas” in Vegas Car Chasers. Their drummer called it quits, so the circus-beat pop punk drums are no longer present, and have been replaced by a fairly normal drummer who gets put through the ringer of effects quite often.
So, enter the new and soon-to-be-doomed Silage. Their album opens up with something different in the form of a track called “Original”. First, an explosion of music as everything comes in at once with no warning, most prominent of which is the guitar, still a Fender Stratocaster, still sounding pretty. The one E chord (played suspended in every bar for good measure) is accompanied by some strange vocals samples and squeaky DJ scratching. Oh no, you may be thinking, and right you would be, but this is the late 90′s, it was all over the pop radio anyway.
The vocals are performed by none other than Damian Horne, the dude who sang all of Watusi, and is done in his usual goof-rap fashion. The words have gotten a bit wiser, as the whole thing is making fun of the conventions of having to come up with an “original sound” in order to make it, “gotta break through with the break-through new sound”. It’s a strange song, but this is a strange album, and it only gets better.
“Yo Tengo” is a little bit in the same vein as “Original” but is more odd and non-sequitor in the lyrics, a bit more guitar heavy, and features a different lead singer! I’ll leave you to interpret the lyrics:
Yo tengo una amiga
Who’s jazz is super-stereophonic
Let it crescendo
A million ears are all bionic
Elastic stretching everlasting
Moonlight the icing
I’ve never seen so much white frosting
Well obviously it’s about being in love with a girl, so I guess it’s not so abstract.
Ahh, “Billboards”, the “hit” of the album as I understand. This song is pure class as far as instruments go, the guitars are riffy, the drums are on time as always, and the rhythmic singing is enchanting. The song is about the superficial aspect of the church, and I know we’ve all had our doubts about that, right? Right.
Next up is “Why Sure”, which is a song I may have stolen a melody from in my bygone days of songwriting, but don’t tell anyone! Mum’s the word! Either way, if unsuccessful musicians are biting your style, it means it’s a good thing yes? Yes. This song is fairly good, a little reminiscent of “Yo Tengo” but in all good ways, and then it bleeds straight into “Verb”, and this is the part of the album where the listener must either endure or become quick on the skip button.
See, “Verb” isn’t a bad song, so much, but there has always been a stigma associated with Christian Music trying to do hip-hop. I blame dc Talk on the whole, but a lot of the rap, while functionally all right, is kind of lacking in that whole danger or coolness element that they tote around so successfully. Indeed, one may consider the rap segment of this song by Christian hip-hop artist Knowdaverbs to be good on the whole, but for me, it’s hard to listen to Christians rapping, so I often skip this one. That could also be because the next song is my favorite.
That’s right, “Credit Card”, not only is it a well-built pop song set in a guitar-heavy minor key, but it’s about something I can deeply relate to, and that is credit card debt. The song is great though, even if your credit is perfect, and stands as my most recommendable Silage song. Dig it.
“Walks And Strolls” is kind of a weird one. It starts with a kind of delicate major 7th chord and lyrically follows this idea that, “more than anything”, the singer either wants a girl who “Walks and strolls, and strolls and walks”, or a band who “Rock and rolls, and rolls and rocks”, but in the end, wants to “give it to You”, meaning God, meaning this is a Christian song. It might not be your style, but it’s not a bad song and it’s got a solid bridge, so there.
“Great Alaskan Ninja” is a hip-hop flavored song without the guest rapper about a band on the road, and happens to have one of my favorite song titles ever. The humor in this song starts to bring back the sense of humor that the band established in Watusi, which is always a good thing.
“Ketchup Is Mustard” is another fine classic that does what all good Christian songs should do, puts the complex and spiritually challenging act of witnessing into the simple act of making a sandwich, and reminds the viewer to make sure to put some mustard on that thing. Besides that it has a kickin’ bass-line and is a really fun song, it’s also fairly deep for being so simple. Well played, fellas.
Next we have “Beatnik”, which is the only song that I feel is truly reminiscent of the “old” Silage, which we have left so far behind by this point that this song seems to be a little out of place. Even the amateur horns make a comeback, but I do love this song, so it’s no bother. I don’t know what the song’s about, I guess it’s about not being a Beatnik, which I can stand behind about 60 years ago.
Finally, we have the title track, a deep, dark, acoustic song very reminiscent of someone trying to sound like Radiohead, which as I understand, was the band’s intention. Apparently the entirety of the song came to Lance Black in a dream, and he proceeded to write this ominous album closer. It’s kind of odd, but quite a pretty song, as long as you don’t mind the extra large and thumpy bass that was mixed into it compared to the rest of the album.
With that, our boys are finished. Sure Damian and Lance started an unsuccessful band called “Parkway” and Lance is still doing music in the reviled “emo” genre, but as far as Silage goes, one of the most interesting bands in a genre aching and yearning for anything musically interesting, this is it. Hopefully you enjoyed, and if not, might I invite you to buy either one of the CD’s the band put out for mere pennies, since apparently one thing defunct Christian bands are good for is killer overstock deals.