[sic] Magazine

Stephen Bailey – Silo

And the surprises from the Cardinal Fuzz label keep on coming. The Left Outsides’ gentle fifth LP hits the shelves later this month and is about as far from the imprint’s hard-hitting template as it’s possible to imagine and now we have the debut solo album from Aussie psych head Stephen Bailey of Mt. Mountain. Without context, it’s perhaps difficult to even imagine what this record might sound like and yet Silo still manages to surprise. The space-rocking fraternity at [sic] magazine were nonetheless very partial to Mt. Mountain’s 2017 Dust LP, hypnotic zoning, evocative drones and inevitably pummelling riffs straight from the hinterlands of Perth all present and correct, but – for starters – Bailey’s low-key Silo is a far more accessible listen and mostly key-driven instead of guitar.

First appearing on cassette in 2017, then on LP earlier this year via Dusky Tracks and Rhubarb Records, these are deceptively simple songs that still feel luxurious and there’s a real knack to pulling that trick off. And they are real songs too, songs steeped in vintage rock and which hail from that fertile indie/dream-pop cross-over so heavily mined recently. As a result, it’d take all week to list all the bands this winning combination evokes and yet Silo still sounds 100% like something you absolutely must wrap your ears around. Consequently, it’s hard to find fault anywhere too.

Bailey charms from the get-go, “Demure” being dreamy psych-pop by way of warm slowcore, a buzzy churn mixing it up with this particularly lazy river’s strong melodic flow. Wheezy church organ elsewhere delivers slow-burn stabs of krautish insistence, Bailey’s high-register falsetto floating around the space like a lonely cloud, percussive beats adding the lightest of chilly breezes to the daydreaming atmosphere. The delightful “Josephine” strips the template back further for an acoustic-led, ever-so-fragile bout of psych-folk that ends up being not a million miles away from that of Woods while the mesmeric “Sub Zero” will likely appeal to fans of emotional acts like Youth Lagoon, sun-dappled drift dancing with keys and a horizontally laid-back guitar-line bent out of the haze.

Bleary-eyed falsetto funk joins the party thanks to “Take It Up”, its languid bounce the product of jangling keys and thick bubbling bass to die for. Blatant folk motifs then come to a head on the wispy title-track, beautiful finger-picking duet-ing alongside Bailey’s choral cooing. The Mt. Mountain flutes makes an appearance in places too, shuffling 60s-style song-writing led astray by sleepy neo-psychedelia; seemingly adept on the piano too, Silo’s closer is a surprisingly classical instrumental while the gorgeous “Let’s Try Love” deploys its zen qualities on a ballad that variously recalls Grandaddy and Brian Wilson. And surely compliments don’t come much higher than that. A quite brilliant surprise of a record.

Best track: “Sub Zero”

~Silo is released 21st May 2018 via Cardinal Fuzz.~