PRESTON SCHOOL OF INDUSTRY

 

"I think it definitely sounds more true to my sound than the last one. It's more personal, this one. I guess it has to do with moving on up to Seattle. It's also a very political album. It's commentary on the war, the kind of depressed world we live in now days post 9/11."

 

Former Pavement man Scott Kannberg, AKA Spiral Stairs, returns with sophomore album, Monsoon, a truer record than his last, according to the man himself. True it is, and a fine follow up to 2001's much-praised All This Sounds Gas too, which was lp of the week in both The Sunday Times and Evening Standard. 

 

Featuring all the members of Wilco, and the Minus 5's Scott McCaughey, Monsoon is not a million miles away from Scott's first Preston record, but the album is perhaps more introspective in mood than the last one. The songs do retain their radio-friendly qualities, however, and in Caught In The Rain and Walk Of A Gurl the Preston sound of country-rock is well represented.  

 

In some respects Monsoon marks a change for Scott Kannberg, in that for this album he wrote almost entirely new material. With All This Sounds Gas Scott worked up older material, using ideas from his Pavement time, but here he has started from scratch. The results are as fresh as you'd expect, and Scott's Wilco-led band take the sound into a country direction, with slide guitars a-plenty, pedal steel, and mandolin parts recalling Lindisfarne among others. All the time, however, the band helps maintain the skewed pop-sensibilities for which Scott has always been known. 

 

This is a record not just for Pavement and Preston School of Industry fans, but for anyone wishing to hear a band on top of its game. The playing is spot on throughout, and the writing is to match. More than anything Kannberg shakes any kind of post-Pavement blues he might have been suggesting with his All Things Must Pass reference with the last LP title: now Scott is feeling the effects of having caught the rain, and he wants to tell you about the monsoon.