Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Brooklyn chamber-pop band the Silent League deal in enormous hooks and enormous sounds–think indie maximalists Flaming Lips or Arcade Fire, wrapped in the blurry focus of the ’70s soft-rock they hold dear. A sporadically resurfacing orchestral burst from one-time Mercury Rev keyboardist Justin Russo and Stars Like Fleas founder Shannon Fields, the Silent League has been championed up and down by the British press (their last album, 2007’s Of Stars And Other Somebodies, was U.K.-only). Now, the band is set to make its biggest splash yet with its ambitious third record, …But You’ve Always Been The Caretaker, due February 2010 on Something In Construction Records. Caretaker features Russo, Fields, the six other members of Silent League, and at least 18 more musicians cycling through an ELO-sized opus full of glockenspiels, carefully utilized AutoTune, field recordings, Julia Kent’s omnipresent cello, horns, and massive choir washes. First taste “Here’s A Star” is a four-minute slow-build–like the Police’s “King Of Pain,” but with a Sufjan kiss–all leading up to a gorgeous, blown-out Bowie coda. A true masterwork for people who like their indie darlings larger than life.
What is “Here’s a Star” about?
Justin Russo: “Here’s a Star” is about a bunch of things, mostly revolving around the idea of not really being able to succeed where you want to. The main character sort of crash lands on earth a la Ziggy Stardust and tries to make things go the way he wants them to but basically proceeds to muck everything up.
What inspired you to write the song?
Russo: Well, we were in the process of recording two albums back to back and after a while I think the extended operation sort of made us all feel like we were pushing this huge stone up a hill. Some of that definitely wound up on the record. Also, I’d say this song came about as a result of the contrast between our hopes for success and our need to get up and go to work in the morning.
What inspired you guys to soldier on and make a third record?
Shannon Fields: Justin and I talked quite a bit about whether or not we would do another Silent League record. The band has done okay internationally but we’ve never even really toured here. Everyone in the band was so busy it was getting hard to hold it together. I’ll say that for my part, there was a certain Silent League record or voice that I had always wanted to hear, heard us making, heard in our music live, but never quite found in our records. I just got a big bee in my bonnet about wanting to hear that realized… Justin and I sat in Prospect Park and talked at length about how we wanted to make the record as much as what we wanted to make.
What’s been the most memorable show you’ve ever played in NYC?
Fields: Probably an unamplified show with Stars Like Fleas at the old Glass House Gallery, before it became Glasslands, several years ago. We sat in the middle of the room on the floor with people practically standing on top of us trying to wrestle improvisational songs and electronic textures out of acoustic instruments with no amplification or electronics, nothing mediated. It was like inviting 100 people into your bed and playing naked for them, while they whispered feedback into your ear. People talk about shows as being “intimate” but that was the only show where I’ve ever felt the word meant something honest. It was terrifying and funny and close and sort of indescribable.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Russo: Most definitely home. Or Monkeytown.