THE SILVERSUN PICKUPS (“Canvas”) vs. STAR (“Devastator”)

Tonight, a double-shot review of two similar-yet-quite-different examples of shoegazer rock. Before I begin, I’d like to share the following formulae:

Star =Sonic Youth+Sinead O’Connor-Bono.

Silversun Pickups= Belly + Smashing Pumpkins+Public Image, Ltd.

I’m going to start with Star, because it’s the cleaner of the two.

The band takes what-you’d-expect-from-shoegazer-vocals and lays them over ‘90s style alternative rock, heavy on the guitar. Sometimes they really hit the mark, such as the fuzz-laden, “Liars in Love,” where Shannon Roberts’ Mazzy vocals rise above a whirling vortex of guitar noise, and on “Bad Attention,” which utilizes a similar sound. Their style doesn’t seem to work as well for me on the slower numbers, like, “Rebels Get Lonely,” but there aren’t too many slow points on the record. Overall, Star can get a little redundant on repeat listens, although midtempo tunes like, “Exploding Order” (which adds a backwards synth loop to the mix) are clear (and welcome) attempts to add variety to the album, and show the band’s potential for growth.

Which brings us to The Silversun Pickups, who do what I’d call shoegazer punk. And if that sounds like an oxymoron, it is. Lazy Eye is (deservedly) getting a lot of hype these days, and SP apparently put on quite a show at SXSW, but the band is about more than grungy shoegaze. For example, “Melatonin,” the first track on “Canvas,” is a straightforward, unsurprising (albeit catchy) introduction to the record. But after bringing you in with a genre standard, the band proceeds to run the format right off the edge of a
cliff. I’m going to post, “Waste It On,” far-and-away my favorite track on the album, as an example of why you should be listening to this band. The vocals have Sinead O’Connor’s style (minus the powerful belts that only she can give), but they consciously hit well off the beat. This is a big risk, because it could easily descend into off-key clatter, but the sound is so precise, so organized, and so purposeful that instead it emphasizes the singer’s disdain for social conformity. By the end of the song, the musicians have joined in her contempt. There’s a clear break, where the guitar does a countdown into the madness-spiral that ends the tune. Don’t get me wrong: I like Lazy Eye. But I love this song.

Waste It On Me-Silversun Pickups

Liars in Love-Star
Alternate link:
LIars in Love-Star

Exploding Order-Star


Smashing Pumpkins fans, go here

You Wild Colorado (Acoustic Jonny Cash Cover)-Mark Lanegan (from Milan Radio Session 2003)

Cinnamon Girl (Acoustic Neil Young Cover) – Milan Radio Session 2003

And last, but not least:


band of gold
be for real
can’t get enough of your love babe
chalk outline
come see about me
dark end of the street
dixie peach promenade
easily persuaded
i want to go to sleep
if i only had a heart
lost in the supermarket
miss world
moon river
mr. superlove
my curse (peel session)
my world is empty without you
papa was a rascal
rebirth of the cool
somethin hot (remix)
true love travels on a gravel road
what jail is like (morning version)
will you still love me tomorrow
you’ve changed

Go here for the zip!

Related Posts

About The Author