Siskiyou returns from a four-year hiatus with Not Somewhere, which finds band leader Colin Huebert (ex-Great Lake Swimmers) essentially in solo mode, writing and self-recording this new collection on his own, playing just about everything himself. Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou's magical, understated 2010 debut in this and other ways: the album’s production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication. Huebert was commissioned by NYC artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a movie accompaniment to "The Happy Show" installation art project - ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert's own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the unadorned aesthetic of early, leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day. The result is a beautifully restrained and direct song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert's distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery. Not Somewhere is delicate, discreet, and wonderfully assured - a humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Siskiyou.
Siskiyou returns with Nervous, a majestic album of carefully constructed art rock built around songwriter and lead singer Colin Huebert's stacked acoustic guitars and intimate, whispery vocals. Siskiyou's sound has been previously dubbed a sort of 'Northern Gothic', conjuring cold winds and the life-saving warmth of temporary shelters and tiny hearth fires. With Nervous, the band continues to push beyond the crisp lo-fi intimacy of its early work, and has forged its most confident and finely-crafted recording to date, moving fully into auteur and chamber-pop territory with a song cycle that brings to mind the meticulousness of mood and sonics found in recent work by PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tindersticks. Inflected by an anxious, sussurant restraint, Huebert's voice is supported by the falsetto backing vocal counterpoint and economical instrumentation of bandmates Erik Arnesen, Peter Carruthers and Shaunn Watt. Nervous includes contributions from guest musicians Colin Stetson, Owen Pallett, JP Carter, Ryan Driver and the St. James Music Academy Senior Choir, among others. The album features original artwork by Michael Drebert; the Deluxe LP edition includes a series of 12"x12" prints of Drebert's india ink drawings inspired by the album.
Most of the tunes on Keep Away The Dead were born at Mara Hall in Mara, BC (pop. 350) where bed tracks were laid down in the crisp air during the depth of winter. The arctic atmosphere of that empty, cavernous, hardwood structure was the perfect complement to Huebert's sensibility: a tense and acute restraint; a shivering, biting, sometimes bitter rending of barebones, folk-inflected rock music.
With the addition of Shaunn Watt and Peter Carruthers, Siskiyou has coalesced into a superb, incisive four-piece band, honed over the past year by extensive touring in Europe and Canada, after which the quartet hit Vancouver's JC/DC Studio (Destroyer, New Pornographers) in early 2011, adding to the previous year's Mara sessions.
Siskiyou's debut was a stunning little scrapbook of short, sharp tunes; Keep Away The Dead ramps up with subtle care and clarity - something closer to a sonic novella. The resulting song cycle yields a strikingly cold-eyed, warm-hearted album, marked by quiet defiance and desperation, where each tune feels like another precious log thrown on a lone campfire burning in the cold night.