Italian Platinum

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Guitarist Andy Cohen was successful in luring his bandmates from Seattle to the City of Big Shoulders, and the now twice-relocated Silkworm is able to continue its semi-steady release schedule and live closer to its label and longtime engineer at the same time. There are a couple mild surprises on Italian Platinum, like the backwater new wave bounce of "The Brain" (Creedence Clearwater B-Fifty Shoes), and the teary piano-led ballad "Young," where guest Kelly Hogan takes a powerful lead vocal turn. Otherwise, Silkworm makes another successful lurch into truly post-classic rock territory while its streak of agitated post-punk remains; other paradoxical phrases like "Mission of Poco" and "Procol Wire" honestly aren't without merit. They also continue to mix the loud and ferocious with the soft and pensive; "The Third" runs rampant with a needling solo from Cohen, and then the spacious "Moving" is crafted from little more than Tim Midgett's lightly rumbling bass, his whispering voice, and a simple drum pattern from Michael Dahlquist. The songwriting is just as even-keeled as ever, spinning tales of drunkenness and romantic strife and sprinkling them with the occasional laff riot. So on the surface, it's not too easy to see Silkworm for what it's gradually become over time, which is the U.S. rock equivalent of Saint Etienne. Taking disparate elements from their collective record collection, mashing them up, and spitting them out far less brazenly than their U.K. counterparts, the members of Silkworm nonetheless end up sounding like few other rock bands of their time while hardly sounding like a cover band revue. Oh yeah, one more surprise: the artwork. It could be a replication of someone's 10th-grade English paper, a facsimile of "local record"-style graphics, or an in-joke that makes Bedhead's design team look like Hipgnosis.

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