June Panic

Silver Sound Sessions

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Alchemy, numerology, Jungian theory, Christianity: It all figures in somehow. But you needn't know much about these subjects to thoroughly enjoy this mini-album from June Panic. Culled from recordings made prior to Horror Vacui, the songs on Silver Sound Sessions were originally deemed unsatisfactory in terms of fidelity, and, as a result, all but one was scrapped and forgotten ("The Silver Sound" did turn up on Horror Vacui, and the same version makes an encore appearance here). Nearly two years later, the Silver Sound tapes were resurrected as Panic, and friends remixed the old material, added some tracks, and recorded one completely new song, "(Bells) Ring Out the News." Listening to this collection, it's difficult to detect the supposed sonic foul-ups that sent the sessions to limbo. It might not have achieved the ideal Panic had in mind of making music that "sounded like silver," but from a sheer fidelity standpoint, these songs sound just as good as Horror Vacui. And Panic's songwriting is in fine form too: These are no mere throwaways. Songs like "Graveyard Crown" and "Honey Sacrifice" rank among some of Panic's best work: lyrically playful and austere at the same time, and with almost jazzy arrangements. There's even a Love cover thrown in. By comparison to Panic's earlier albums, this collection is breezy and easy-to-digest. There's no sign of any jagged noise experiments, and Panic's Dylanesque voice is more restrained than ever before, though it retains all of its nasally distinctiveness. And despite the heady subject mater, these high-minded folk-pop songs skirt pretentiousness and invite singing along.

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