reviewed by Jack Derricourt
The Regina psych-folk crew Snake River have made a record that I find hard to evaluate. I have known concept albums before. I have listened to many a folk album. The two have rarely joined hands in my experience. But with Songs From the Adjacent Room, Snake River has produced a concept album of intriguing songs, filled to the brim with beautiful folk rock orchestration. This is a twist I was not expecting.
I’ve not felt so excited by the Joycean levels of story and characterization in a set of recordings since I listened to Arthur by the Kinks over and over and over again. There are two characters, both epicly hungover, parsing out recent events and flashbacks of their marriage. Every memory is close, personal reflection — though the speakers of the songs may trail back, it always appears like the thoughts stem just from the other side of the doorway they entered through.
Every track glistens with beautiful recording and production. Christopher Sleightholm, man of many talents (including guitar) within Snake River, holds the blame for the fine sense of balance and warmth found all over the record. The drums hold it all together, rocking steady, mixed in like hearty stock for the folk soup of sound. The vocal layers are played to perfectly, never dominating the scene, but evaluated as another instrument in the bunch.
A couple of highlights from this class act of a concept album:
“I Saw You” hums with vocal harmonies driving thoughts. The guitars flick about startling images of melodies, trickles of notions, little sorties into the stream of inner dialogue. Drums keep the motion mounting through the song working itself out. There is so much song to this music, and yet, it is very much moving away from a simple structure; the music adds and adds and reaches a pinnacle, then ends. The progression is gorgeous.
“Resonating On” is a psych starlight vigil for memory. Fans of Brian Jonestown Massacre will have a field day with this one, as bluesy guitar and swirling, ethereal vocals drift into the hyperdrive mainline, broadcasting the determined will of the speaker, “still resonating on.”
“Mr. McKruski Exits the Party” is funky rock explosions in the midst of the weirdness; but, at over ten minutes, there’s a lot of weirdness as well. Synth ghosts parade as Mr. McKruski makes his move, perhaps other party guests? Perhaps other motions in the mind of the man. The musical exit is a wild journey in itself, and leaves me wishing that my usual departures elicited such sonic bursts of invention.
This is a fascinating record, one made to be listened to over and over. Snake River demand you take the red pill. Take it and enjoy the aftermath.
Top Track: “Mr. McKruski Exits the Party”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*