In the great underground assimilation of the late '80s, the Silos
never fit in with the other indie rockers (Hüsker Dü, Throwing Muses, Pixies) snapped up by the majors. Founding singer and songwriter Walter Salas-Humara couldn't sacrifice his personal idiosyncrasies, the raw quiver of his voice, his guileless love for soul and country or his gift for space-clearing, guitar-stacked arrangements. The indie ethos equated cool detachment with artful intelligence, volume with emotion. The Silos just played rock & roll like it still mattered, not as politics (despite album titles like Cuba
and Hasta La Victoria
) but as exhilaration, the inexhaustible well of melodies and emotions the music was meant to be. Over the past fifteen years Salas-Humara has sometimes put the Silos on hold to record with Alejandro Escovedo and Hazeldine or to dabble in ersatz electronica. Now the brand-new When the Telephone Rings
(Dualtone) finds the Silos dialing in a bit of the violin-scored sway of their glory years, but mostly twanging hard and rocking harder through low-budget Mexican fiestas, phone calls evoking post-9/11 New York, a chorus of angels looking for work and a wide-open world that doesn't owe anyone anything. It's been some seven years since some of rock's true dark horses have played our town. Welcome them back.