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National Skyline

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Album Review

Sort of an emo supergroup, National Skyline features Jeff Garber of Castor and Jeff Dimpsey of Hum, two first-wave mid-'90s emo bands. Recorded in bits and bits over the course of the late '90s and housed in a deliberately uninformative sleeve with inscrutable photos of an abandoned office building, National Skyline is so "unpretentious" that it actually becomes a little pretentious. Similarly, the music is also deliberately low-key, with vocals so hushed they're sometimes barely audible, droning guitars just barely holding shape, and electronic and tape-manipulated noises that bleed into the foreground at odd moments. The seven lengthy tracks sound like the results of rehearsals and improvisations that didn't quite jell all the way into becoming actual songs. On the other hand, there are plenty of cool ideas and intriguing sounds here, and the hypnotic opening track, "Metropolis," actually sorta rocks, in a too cool for school way. Their second album would be a remarkable improvement, but National Skyline has just enough going for it to make it a worthwhile listen, at least for Hum and Castor fans.


Formed: 1998 in Champaign-Urbana, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

National Skyline's indie rock conceptions began as a solo project of Hum bassist Jeff Dimpsey. Beginning as an idea to create a 45-minute composition in his hometown, Champaign, IL, in 1996, National Skyline eventually became a composite band with an always-changing lineup. After getting together a set consisting of Nicky Macri, formerly with C-Clamp and Euphone, Derek Niedrighaus, previously with Castor and Sarge, and Jeff Garber, another former member of Castor, Dimpsey ultimately managed to materialize...
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