The Speaking Canaries are a rock group from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania fronted by Damon Che, better known as the drummer of the legendary Don Caballero. 98% of reviews of this record seem to say nothing about it other than that it sounds like Van Halen, or Rush, or Boston, or something of that ilk, which I find to be completely baffling as I get none of that from this. In a couple of tracks Che interjects with some stellar guitar tapping, but even then it is few and far between. This is quickly becoming one of my most beloved records. It is criminal how unknown it is, and how when it does seem to get attention it is written off as 70's arena rock worship. There is definitely an influence from that, but it is completely balanced by an equal influence of latter day indie + punk rock sound and attitude. Take for instance "Last Side of Town Parts 1 & 2" which in its nearly half hour span, contains a melodic instrumental beginning, melts down into a Sonic Youth informed noise section with quiet, pretty valleys that build into searing, white-hot peaks and back again, and finishes out with a wonderfully soaring ending. Che's voice goes from soft falsetto to aggressive screaming often within the same song and it fits the music perfectly. At times the music reminds me of The Replacements or Drive Like Jehu. This record is best experienced on a long drive to nowhere in particular. I love it when records can conjure certain moods and for me that mood is "last car on the road at 4 A.M., looking at faint lights from truck stops and factories, on a distant highway somewhere between the Big City and Anytown, U.S.A."
Check it out:
(P.S. - There are in fact two versions of this record. There is a "short" version and a "long" version. I have included the long version as I feel it is the best way to experience the record since it includes extended takes of the songs "Last Type", "Coffin Jitters", "Last Side of Town", and also includes "Stuffed With Fear" which is unavailable on the short version.)