The Silver Liners at the 9:30 Club

The Silver Liners newly tweaked line-up perform the Rock the Debt event at the 9:30 Club. Photo: The Silver Liners

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2013 —It’s always interesting to see a band that’s still in its formative stage. Relatively new, the Silver Liners have effectively been a band for over three years. While the changes they’ve gone through since they got things underway haven’t been overly dramatic, they’ve also been far from subtle.  They’ve made substantial strides over the last three years, even as they try to determine what their final product is going to be.

So, seeing them recently at the 9:30 Club for the Rock the Debt event and watching them as they worked through their most recent line-up changes and the subtle alteration of their sound proved both interesting and informative. It’s important for a band not stay in one place creatively for too long for fear of becoming stagnant. In that regard, the Silver Liners seem to be in continuous motion, breaking in new material during their set to serve as a sign of what the band is doing differently now.

This isn’t to suggest that the Silver Liners has gone through a ton of recent changes. But it’s noticeable that they’ve taken a slight shift in their mindset. The band still consists of original members like front man Jay Nemeyer, guitarist John Patton and drummer Matt Hartenau. As the band’s evolved though, they’ve shifted the bass from their line-up and made a synth/keyboard sound more prominent now featuring Rose Davis, who also provides vocals in several spots during their set.

The drift the Silver Liners have taken recently isn’t necessarily out of the blue. They’ve always had fairly strong pop tendencies even when their sound was strictly of the indie rock variety, but there was always a strong affinity toward a purer pop sound. So, when they recently released the three song Bliss EP, it wasn’t surprising to hear the band’s pop influences coming more up front and center while the rock aspect of their sound was pushed more to the background to the point where it’s becoming a side luxury rather than a focal point.

This is the direction they’re taking their recorded material: light, airy guitar work with a strong semblance of synth-pop. There aren’t any traditional driving pop/rock riffs as on some of their earlier material. Instead, their melodies are the driving force behind their sound. This direction is helped in no small part by the addition of Rose Davis’ vocals, back up or otherwise, helping mold the band’s sound nicely into a confident pop sound. It’s most definitive work they’ve done so far in their short existence as a band.

The confidence shown on the Bliss EP hasn’t completely seeped into the live set yet, although it’s clearly getting there, assuming their recent appearance here offered us a clue. The biggest difference between the Silver Liners live and their recorded material has more to do with aesthetic than anything else. They’re still in something of a transitional phase where they haven’t quite left their generic pop/rock roots entirely in their past. There are moments of confusion that occur when they’re trying to merge the two phases instead of simply adopting their new identity outright.

Still, these moments of worry seem fleeting and are usually overshadowed whenever the Silver Liners break out any of the new material during their set. The band becomes more energetic when playing these songs and the songs definitely provide a much more dynamic feel when projected toward the audience. 

In short, there’s a lot of promise in the Silver Liners’ new direction. If their recent live show in DC was any indication of this direction, the band seems to be excited pursuing it and introducing their new songs to their developing audience.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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