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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2019 | New Machine Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 21, 2014 | Dangerbird Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2015 | New Machine Recordings

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One could argue that in the year 2015 you can do better for a musical role model than Billy Corgan, and it sounds as if Silversun Pickups are slowly but surely reaching a similar conclusion. The Los Angeles-based alternative outfit have long coveted the scale and the drama of Smashing Pumpkins in their glory days, but on their fourth album (and the first for their own New Machine label), 2015's Better Nature, Silversun Pickups are still thinking big but with a more streamlined approach. The group's melodies are little changed, and the scope of the production and arrangements still leans to big sounds and broad dynamics, but this time out, Brian Aubert's guitars are audibly less interested in commanding their surroundings. Instead, Joe Lester's keyboards step to the forefront on these sessions, and Better Nature is full of clean surfaces and sweeping synthesizer patches that at times suggest a full-bodied variant on '80s synth pop, a sound reinforced by the clean, precise but lively production from Jacknife Lee. Bassist Nikki Monninger and drummer Christopher Guanlao certainly give Better Nature a bottom end that suits a rock record, and Aubert delivers these songs like they have anthemic potential, but the pulsing sequencers and clouds of keyboards are the sounds that ultimately define Better Nature, and while the homage is less overt (and less specific to any one group), sometimes this album suggests Silversun Pickups have simply traded in one dominant influence for another. But the IMAX-sized production and arrangements work well with the album's songs, and the final three tracks -- "Latchkey Kids," "Raggamuffin," and "The Wild Kind" -- match form and content with impressive results, giving this set a grand-scale finish that justifies their faith in tuning up their game plan. Better Nature suggests Silversun Pickups have an interesting future ahead of them as their sound evolves, and as for Billy Corgan -- hey, buck up, buddy, you and the Pickups had a good run for a while. ~ Mark Deming
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 7, 2019 | New Machine Recordings

Turning inward on their fifth full-length, Los Angeles four-piece Silversun Pickups shifts away from the pulsing synths and thrills of their previous effort, amplifying the drama and tension with the moody Widow's Weeds. While not as immediate as their prior few albums, the introspective set maintains the band's focus on melodic hooks and swelling, orchestral layers, which serve to buffer their ever-potent brand of alternative rock. Joined by producer Butch Vig (Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage), the group -- vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert, bassist Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao, and keyboardist Joe Lester -- delivers a tight attack for these distressed and mournful songs, supercharging buzzy riffs and pounding percussion to drive Aubert's pained lyrics deep into the core. Thematically centered on his journey to sobriety, Widow's Weeds -- named after the black clothes worn by women in mourning -- is a heavy listen and often dwells in dark places. However, the main takeaway is change, healing, and the future. So while fear, self-doubt, and desperation creep menacingly throughout, Aubert (backed, as always, by Monninger's heavenly harmonies) pulls himself from the mire, declaring "we've finally made it out alive" and "I'll keep on fighting/As long as you keep trying." The struggle is present on the urgent "Neon Wounds" and the intense rager "Songbirds," while hope is offered with the grand, poetic title track. Album standout "It Doesn't Matter Why" is a driving, anxiety-packed highlight, riding an Arcade Fire-esque urgency into the ranks as one of best songs in their catalog. Elsewhere, the potent string duo of Paul Cartwright and Matt Booker adds appropriate heft to a quartet of the album's most sweeping tracks, such as "Straw Man," which swells to life with elegant beauty before the veneer crashes away with a full-band assault reminiscent of the most hardened Garbage songs. On "Don't Know Yet," Aubert sings, "I need a fresh start now/Reboot the machine." With Widow's Weeds, the band hasn't necessarily reinvented their wheel, but there's a deep sense of change and growth, both in personal perspective and potential direction. While it takes time for the album to really sink in, it ends up being one of Silversun Pickups' most emotionally satisfying and cathartic listens. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

Alternative & Indie - Released | Dangerbird Records

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Pop/Rock - Released | Dangerbird Records - MapleMusic Recordings

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 13, 2017 | New Machine Recordings

Alternative & Indie - Released | Dangerbird Records

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Carnavas, the debut full-length from L.A.'s Silversun Pickups, is the sort of record that brings something new to discover with each listen. Thus, listen one is as enjoyable as listen five or ten, but probably for entirely different reasons, since unique bits continuously appear from the band's dream haze of accessibly textured indie rock. From the grainy opening of "Melatonin" that blends into strikingly harmonized male/female vocals, the quartet immediately showcases their innate sense of melody amid textured atmospherics and layers of distortion and fuzz, which all come across as both bittersweet and enchanting. Silversun Pickups take the shimmering dream pop of My Bloody Valentine and filter it through '90s grunge instincts like that of the Smashing Pumpkins -- and it all combines to produce an album that, well, is really freaking good. Vocals are both haunting and sweet, as lead singer Brian Aubert somehow manages to sound like a cross between the Goo Goo Dolls' Robby Takac and the Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor -- in a good way. And for every moment of ominous intensity, the band further manipulates their ethereal antics into moments of pure shimmering redemption. "Future Foe Scenarios" is urgent in a completely controlled way that makes the vocals come off even fiercer over the song's driving distortion, while exhilarating and spacious cuts like "Lazy Eye" and "Common Reactor" materialize out of clouds of hazy guitars and pensive keyboard with dynamic force that never loses its direction. Though an extremely rewarding listen, proceed with caution: once put into a stereo, Carnavas may become stuck inside for quite a while. ~ Corey Apar
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2019 | New Machine Recordings

Alternative & Indie - Released January 11, 2014 | Dangerbird Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 8, 2019 | New Machine Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2015 | New Machine Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released | Dangerbird Records

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While nowhere near as immediate as their 2006 grunge-pop opus Carnavas, this EP from 2005, enigmatically named for and dedicated to a friend of the band's (and pronounced "pie-kull"), shows Silversun Pickups developing their Smashing Pumpkins worship into a formula all their own. The difference is in the subtlety and restraint of their arrangements; whereas Billy Corgan has trademarked his whisper-to-a-scream dynamics, the Pickups keep the buildups fluid and the crescendos controlled. Oftentimes the listener may find themselves wishing for more explosive release, but things are kept discreet here; after all, it's easier to effectively follow the quiet-loud-quiet tactics of the Pixies or Nirvana, much more tricky to keep things understated yet filled with tension. Only on the leadoff track "Kissing Families" does lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert seethe with barely contained rage, "Everything is connected and beautiful, and now I know just where I stand," a realization that doesn't seem to please him. Or on "The Fuzz" where the guitars build to a multi-tracked yet muted climax we still aren't given the payoff we might have expected. This could be attributed to a desire to keep things radio-friendly or in a pop format, perhaps at the advice of a producer, or it could just be the band's entire modus operandi. Another complaint could be leveled at the Pickups' over-reliance on root-chord eighth-note downbeat strums indicative of bedroom compositions originally aimed for the coffeehouse open mic circuit, but that factor is minor, and while it undermines any overt intensity it adds to the subtle subversiveness of the arrangements. Most seductive is a Moe Tucker-esque turn on vocals by bassist/backup vocalist Nikki Monninger on "Creation Lake"; the simplicity of this song with its childlike keening belies its complicity in the overall disenchantment and ennui that seems to be the theme of this collection. "...All the Go Inbetweens" and an unnamed "hidden" track continue the wistful yet urgent feeling and bring the collection of a mere six songs to a close that feels like a complete album. A great beginning is documented here, and one can see the maturation on their subsequent full-length. One would only hope that the band can continue to find its own distinctive voice. ~ Brian Way

Electronic/Dance - Released May 26, 2017 | New Machine Recordings

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Pop/Rock - Released April 24, 2012 | Dangerbird Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released | Dangerbird Records

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