Leland and the Silver Wells release Self-Titled LP
If you don’t think that there’s anything to be excited about in new music, Leland and the Silver Wells’ eponymous third album is a record that you need to make a point of listening to at the soonest available opportunity. Saturated in psychedelic fuzz, volatile in its pace and daringly rigid in the presentation of its textures, Leland and the Silver Wells is not your parent’s pop record. The band’s creative mastermind Leland Ettinger set out to disassemble the foundations of alternative rock in this new LP, and devoted nine songs to reassembling the pieces to her own liking.
When we strip her aesthetic down to its rawest form, Ettinger is fundamentally an old school crooner who is fronting a psychedelic rock band, and it isn’t her lyrics but her voice itself that keeps what would otherwise we shapeless tracks from being too sonically removed to be relatable to a mass audience. She’s the lynchpin, the glue that keeps everything together, and my gut tells me that would be the case in any collaborative scenario that we could dream up for her to tackle. Some people are natural born followers, but Ettinger clearly is destined for a more important role in her peer group.
A lot of artists, especially ones on the indie level, have to put in a genuine effort to be likable and charismatic, because even if you’ve got melodies that get stuck in peoples’ heads for days on end, you’re not worth anything in this business if you don’t have the image to go along with the music. For Leland Ettinger, her charm comes so naturally that it ends up infecting all of the musicians that she surrounds herself with. The percussion, the guitars, everything follows her lead when she starts to sing, and her disciplined directing of the mood is absolutely awe-inspiring to witness firsthand.
I would actually love to see Leland and the Silver Wells go out on a limb and experiment with a straight up noise rock record and find out what happens. Ettinger has the chops to perceivably rescue almost any harsh, atonal song from inaccessibility if she really wanted to, and I’m very curious to hear what happens when she’s given a totally abstract template to mold herself. Most artists wouldn’t have the capacity to embrace such a task, but based on what I hear in this album I don’t think it would be a problem for this band given their stellar leadership.
Leland and the Silver Wells is my pick for best comeback album of the season, and before the year is through it might end up securing another nomination for best breakthrough album as well, considering the fact that the Silver Wells hadn’t been able to bridge the gap between the underground and the mainstream in their previous efforts. This could be a game changing moment for Ettinger, and possibly even the subgenre of music that she had a hand in giving life to in the first place. I’ll be keeping close eye on what happens for her next, and I doubt I’ll be the only critic doing so.