Silver Synthetic: Crescent City Garage-Psych

Ryan Reed on August 11, 2021
Silver Synthetic: Crescent City Garage-Psych

“Listening back to it, I was kinda like, ‘Whoa, what the hell is this?’” Chris Lyons says, reflecting on Silver Synthetic’s debut LP. At that point, in summer 2017, the singer-songwriter was still playing with his New Orleans garage-punk band, Bottomfeeders. But a handful of new demos were inching him toward something breezier—melding power-pop harmonies with swaggering strums and periodic waves of psychedelic guitar. “I was on the verge of changing Bottomfeeders’ sound altogether, to be honest with my songwriting,” he notes. “But I liked the idea of starting fresh.”

Trusting that instinct paid off. Recruiting Bottomfeeders drummer Lucas Bogner, bassist Pete Campanelli and guitarist Kunal Prakash, Lyons tracked Silver Synthetic in his living room well before he had a record deal lined up. One happened to find them anyway: After playing a show in Nashville, they were approached by Ben Swank, co-owner of Jack White’s Third Man Records, who asked if they had any music recorded. “We had just finished the record like six months before and were still sitting on it—we didn’t have a plan yet,” Lyons says. “We sent him the record, and he was really into it. We signed with them a few months later. I didn’t think that stuff still happened! Before that, we had this record we were proud of, but we were like, ‘Who do we show it to? Who do we send it to? Who’s gonna care about this?’ We just had to be a little patient.”

That charmed, signed-after-the-gig story feels appropriate for a band already known for their effortless, economical pop-rock songs—from the hazy twang of “In the Beginning” to the British Invasion surge of “Around the Bend.” Even the LP’s spaciest moment, the krautrock swirl that opens “Out of the Darkness,” builds into a hooky openroad chorus.

“It was exciting to be doing something completely fresh,” Lyons says of this new direction. “At the time, it felt more natural than what I was working on with Bottomfeeders—I’d been doing that for a while and felt kinda pigeonholed, like, ‘Man, I put myself in a corner with this sound.’ It felt freeing to start something new where there weren’t any boundaries.”