December 8, 2023

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An Disregarded Gem of Portland Rock Music

Hidden GEMS
An Missed Gem of Portland Rock Tunes


Al Melchior

May perhaps 16, 2022

Portland-primarily based musician and songwriter Casey Neill has not been fearful to adjust his audio from a person album to the up coming. When he introduced Brooklyn Bridge in 2007, he eschewed the Celtic- and folks-motivated seem that shaped the foundation for his function likely back again to the mid-’90s for a fuller-sounding indie rock really feel. Eleven yrs later, Neill and his band built sizeable modifications to their seem once more. On his a few previous albums (the latter two with The Norway Rats), Neill’s seem is dominated by electric guitar, bass, and drums. On 2018’s Subterrene, he and The Norway Rats took yet one more flip, incorporating synths and drum devices to the blend.

While the seem of Subterrene may possibly be unfamiliar to individuals who know Neill’s earlier albums, several of the contributors are common names. Jeff “The Chet” Lyster of Eels co-wrote every of the tracks, and in a 2019 interview, Neill cited him as remaining instrumental to the album’s new route. Neill has been a vital, however fewer acknowledged, member of the Portland indie scene for decades, and quite a few well known Portland-dependent musicians lend their talents to Subterrene. Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) the two conduct on “In the Swim,” with the latter also co-composing the song with Neill and Lyster. No much less than 3 existing or former associates of the Decemberists (Jenny Conlee-Drizos, Jesse Emerson, and Ezra Holbrook) are element of the Norway Rats’s lineup for this album.

Although Neill assembled a impressive group of musicians, potentially the most noteworthy aspect of Subterrene is the transform in his vocals. The gruffness that characterized his earlier operate is long gone, and his singing on this album is someway the two mellower and additional forceful. On tunes like “Savages,” “Everyone Wants To Be Discovered,” and “Darken Down,” the spacious preparations deliver Neill’s vocals front and center, giving them a rawness and vulnerability that successfully convey the messages about leaving and becoming left that recur throughout many of Subterrene’s ten tracks.

Album opener “My Beloved Accomplice” alerts that this album is going to be a departure from Neill’s earlier releases spacey, layered keyboards carefully crescendo towards the 1st of several ringing guitar chords and cymbal crashes to appear. The accompanying lyrics are just as participating: “Hail the drunken laureate/ Spray Rust-Oleum down the block.” It is an irresistible invitation to abide by Neill’s tale of his romantic relationship with his accomplice, a “queen of hopeless causes” who can “blend the waking earth with aspiration.”

Neill has been crafting and recording beautiful, going songs for a long time, but the improvements in instrumentation and generation on Subterrene heighten the listening encounter. Folks unfamiliar with Neill’s new music will obtain excellent albums between his before operate, but Subterrene is an great entry stage for an exploration of 1 of Portland’s most ignored musicians.

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