Once a musician leaves a band, it’s inevitable that their new material is going to be compared to what they previously produced. If this is the case with Siskiyou’s debut album, then Colin Huebert has nothing to worry about, though I wouldn’t waste precious space in such contemplation. The former Great Lake Swimmers member has teamed up with his former bandmate Erik Arnesen to create an album that is as structured as it is unrestricted, lush but at the same time simplistic. If Modest Mouse and Wilco were to lock themselves up in a house overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific in the winter, the result might be something like this.
The rules of the standard pop song do not apply to Siskiyou. The shortest song clocks in under a minute while “Big Sur” sprawls on for nearly eight, but everything feels as though it is just right. No lyrics are weighed down by complicated metaphors or the pressure to find the perfect rhyme. Instead, core ideas are enhanced by folk-style, fingerpicked acoustic guitars, clattering percussion, delicate horns and wailing electric guitar. A good track to sample first from this album is “This Land,” a dark shadow cast upon Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The band has already moved on to recording its sophomore album, and if it is anything like Siskiyou, then they’ll be a definite force to watch on the alternative scene.