The Potomac Accord
If imitation is truly the most sincere form of flattery, Godspeed You Black Emperor should be really flattered by the cover art on this release by The Potomac Accord. In eerily similar ways, Silver Line On A Black Sea mimics the cover art of f#a# infinity in so many ways that it's hard not to notice (especially for a major follower of the group). Not only does the album have the same bleak black and white photos on the cover (with the same aspect ratio), but the liner notes are written in sort of the same, rambling style and even the paper it's all printed on is the same texture.
At any rate, I was admittingly skeptical by this move. I hoped that the group was doing it as sort of an homage and that the comparisons would end there and the group would move in different directions with their music, which they fortunately do. In fact, really the only thing that they have in common with GYBE is that both groups create long songs. The Potomac Accord is comprised of 4 members and the group mixes piano and keyboards with the more standard lineup of drums, bass, guitar and vocals.
The songs themselves definitely take their time in unfolding, most of the time building into some nicely stated fury on several different tracks. In fact, the album opens up with the almost 10-minute long "Are They Careless Those Who Leave" and it starts out with several minutes of only piano and some slight brushed drums. After awhile, the wounded vocals come in (as well as some nicely muted trumpet) and after a couple verses and some droned-out moments, the group rocks things down with about 2 minutes left to go. The finale of the track is so damn cool (the thick piano gives things an extra rich touch) that you'll be playing air keyboard even if you have no idea how to.
The second track, "When I'm Gone This Will All Be Yours" nearly reaches the 12-minute mark and again the group works the quiet-loud dynamic quite well, building things to a rumble at several point, then dropping off into quieter intervals (and even adds another element with some sampled spoken word). Once again, it's the piano that takes the lead harmony, but it's nice to hear the instrument get its due in an indie rock band as something other than a novelty. Tracks like "To Portland, Maine" and "All Eyes On Me" are a bit more guitar driven, but the band still manages to work things pretty well (especially on the latter, which sounds like something that could have come from Mogwai's Come On Die Young release).
So, don't get me wrong. The cover art is nice and the release is nicely packaged, but it's almost a bit distracting that things are so close. Of course, maybe the problem is that I'm just too damn anal in looking at things like this. In the end, though, the group has mixed a touch of post rock, as well as a bit of drone and a touch of (dare I say) emo (hey, it's the vocals) into a successful debut album. At times, the tracks linger on a theme a smidge too much, but the group has created an interesting release in a very flooded field. That's something by itself. Not only that, but this is only their debut.