As a music journalist, I don’t typically have a choice in what artists I get to write about. I write about the music that is making the most noise at any given time, and though I couldn’t imagine ever writing about another subject, it can get a little daunting when you see trends that obviously hold no real chance of propelling the growth of pop culture as a whole. Every time I lose faith in music or rather the establishment that promotes it, which happens more often then you realize, I always look underground to rediscover the reason why I got into this business to begin with; bands like Leland the Silver Wells. Leland and the Silver Wells are releasing a brand new self-titled album of nine original tracks after an extended break from recording, and unlike anyone you’ll find gracing the stage of this year’s Grammy Awards, achieving platinum sales was the last thing on this band’s mind when they got into the studio this year. Artists like these are the inspiration motivating pop music’s survival, even if they are the unsung heroes of their medium.
The past seven years have seen a rainstorm of disconnection between artists and their audiences that has washed away a lot of the public’s trust in record labels, even in a time when artists are supposedly more in control of their careers than ever before. It just doesn’t play out that way when you’ve got millionaire pop singers talking about relating to everyday struggles in tracks that cost well over six figures to record and produce. Leland and the Silver Wells don’t try to play down to us or relate to our lives in some mundane plastic fashion. Instead they tap into surreal themes that draw from dreamscapes, intuition and reflective subject matter to make their sound universally palatable and relentlessly bold. Leland Ettinger isn’t trying to be the face of this chapter of indie rock’s storied history, but she’s inevitably going to become as much if she keeps releasing music as innovative as this record is.
I truly feel that the Silver Wells are pioneering a new look for the singer/songwriter format that is inspired by experimentalism exclusively, and that shouldn’t concern fans of mainstream pop music as much as it does. Ettinger is a humble composer who isn’t recording music as dynamic as this because she wants the attention or the responsibility that comes with being in the hierarchy of a scene but instead because this is what she was meant to do in life. When creativity is in your blood, trying to contain the need to express yourself is like trying to put out a forest fire with a glass of water; summarizing such a notion as impractical might be the biggest understatement made in the history of written word. This record is verifiable proof that no amount of time or distance placed between an artist and their medium can put a stop to the powerful urge to create, and hopefully this won’t be the last offering we see from this group for another ten years to come.