The Silver Lake Chorus

The Silver Lake Chorus

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The Silver Lake Chorus Review

by Marcy Donelson

The Silver Lake Chorus is a 20-plus-piece choral group not only specializing in indie rock material but managing to acquire original songs by several beloved genre personalities for their all-originals eponymous debut. Contributing songwriters include but are not limited to Sia, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, A.C. Newman of the New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara, Aimee Mann, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and the Bird and the Bee. The chorus is known for arrangements in the spirit of alternative/indie music, with guitars, synths, drums, strings, and more, and the album's are diverse. Justin Vernon's wistful "From the Snow-Tipped Hills" is one of only two a cappella tracks on the record; Tegan and Sara's "Hold Up For" is accompanied by sparse strings, banjo, and glockenspiel; John Roderick's "Same Song" is decorated by electronic bloops and stomping percussion; and the eerily beautiful "Salted Wound" (co-written by Sia, Track & Field, and Oliver Kraus) has slowly unfolding, stacked choral harmonies with reverbed keyboard and percussion. A standout track is "Heavy Star Movin'," written by Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd. The indie-est sounding song, it features ethereal female harmonies over male tenor leads, with keyboards, strings, and glockenspiel affecting a dreamy dissonance that ends at last in electric piano chord resolution. Even without their performance, it sounds like a Flaming Lips song. The catchiest track may be Ben Gibbard's "Nervous Soul," arranged for keyboard, strings, woodwinds, and drums under the voices, but playing the most like a simple pop song. The performances are missing the distinctive lead vocals that one often finds in contemporary a cappella and nearly always in indie pop, instead opting for doubled melodies and blended tones in keeping with a more choral than pop sound (an exception may be Ben Lee's "Overboard"). Fans of the guest songwriters may long for versions done by the artists themselves, but admirers of inventive a cappella or simply a change of pace may enjoy this unusual and varied take on indie turns of phrase.

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