The Silver Seas @ The Basement / Nashville TN / August 31, 2013

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Great pop music is my true passion.   I have previously written about my love for one of its best proponents, The Silver Seas. This Nashville-based band consistently puts out great records and always plays a solid live show. Tonight’s long overdue return to The Basement would mark the 16th time I have seen them perform. Sadly, it has been almost two years to the day when I last saw the band play. It seems that their new found success in the UK has kept them from performing on this side of the pond.

This show was in celebration of the July 9th release of their fourth album, Alaska. The band’s fans were out in full force nearly selling out the small room below Grimey’s record store.  The 70-minute set began with a full performance of Alaska’s ten tracks in order followed by five other songs from previous works. The band even treated everyone to a free copy of the new CD as a part of the meager $8 cover charge.

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The three core members of the Seas–Tashian, Lehning and Gehrke–were joined by Alaska’s producer, Joe Pisapia (Joe, Marc’s Brother, Guster and k.d. lang) on bass. Also along for the evening were their frequent second guitarist, Jonathan Trebling (Rascal Flats) and the added bonus of Luke Schneider (Lambchop, Caitlin Rose) on pedal steel. In a strange maneuver, Pisapia and Trebling switched instruments for the non-Alaska songs.

Though I have never been critical of the band’s live performances, there was really something special about this night. Everything seemed to work just right.  Pisapia proved to be a great addition to the band joining in with drummer Gehrke to provide both the rhythm and backing vocals. Schneider’s pedal steel added a nice layering to the sound of the Alaska songs, an album that Tashian has referred to as the band’s “country record.”

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Much like their earlier works and despite the country label, the new record pleasantly embodies a classic pop record.  It also happens to be anchored by the rock solid lyrics and vocals of a smart, sophisticated singer-songwriter. For my money, there just isn’t a better pop craftsman at work today than Daniel Tashian.  Alaska is certainly the best Nashville-made record the city will probably overlook this year. All we can hope for is that The Seas will someday rebound their UK success back to the States just like Kings of Leon and Paramore have done previously.

Closing out the set, their first pick of old favorites was “We’ll Go Walking.” This was a winner for both me and club-owner Mike Grimes who yelled out the request for his favorite Seas’ song just before I did. “Walking” had the added treat of a beautiful guitar solo from Pisapia.  They followed with three more cuts from their second LP, High Society.  Then, Tashian and crew took us back to the days when they were known as The Bees: They did a nice version of the somewhat trippy “Sea of Stars” from their 2004 debut record, Starry Gazey Pie.

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This great show was well-received by everyone. Scheduled next is a return trip to the UK as supporting act for the reunited Graham Parker & the Rumour. Surely it won’t be another two years before we see them back again in their home town. Hopefully next time, with a hero’s welcome.

SETLIST:

  1. Alaska
  2. I’m the One
  3. Lights Out
  4. As the Crow Flies
  5. Roxy
  6. Sea of Regret
  7. A Night on the Town
  8. Karaoke Star
  9. Wolfie
  10. Wild Honey
  11. We’ll Go Walking
  12. Hard Luck Tom
  13. High Society
  14. The Country Life
  15. Sea of Stars

BAND:

Daniel Tashian—Vocals and Electric Guitar
Jason Lehning—Keyboards
David Gehrke—Drums and Backing Vocals
Joe Pisapia—Bass, Backing Vocals and Electric Guitar
Luke Schneider —Pedal Steel
Jonathan Trebling— Electric Guitar and Bass

 

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