17 Songs, 1 Hour 9 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Guitar-based groups were the norm in the alternative scenes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, with each band finding their own peculiar spot on the map, often rubbing influences without meaning to impinge on one another’s territory. Listening to “Couldn’t You Wait?” from Silkworm’s third album, Libertine, it’s easy to wonder if Silkworm sound like Pavement or if Pavement sound like them. Only Tim Midgett knows for sure (the bands toured with one another). The Montana-based Silkworm were blessed with three key songwriters in Andy Cohen, Joel Phelps, and Tim Midgett, and each delivered their songs in their style. (Phelps is the most emotionally tortured.) Steve Albini engineered these sessions, but it’s only obvious on the aggressive tracks where the drums achieve that nasty warehouse pummel that makes many listeners think of The Jesus Lizard by default. The bonus material on this reissue includes an alternate take of “Grotto of Miracles” and four tracks with Seattle DJ Marco Collins in 1995; they let fans hear the group perform acoustically and at lower volumes than usual.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Guitar-based groups were the norm in the alternative scenes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, with each band finding their own peculiar spot on the map, often rubbing influences without meaning to impinge on one another’s territory. Listening to “Couldn’t You Wait?” from Silkworm’s third album, Libertine, it’s easy to wonder if Silkworm sound like Pavement or if Pavement sound like them. Only Tim Midgett knows for sure (the bands toured with one another). The Montana-based Silkworm were blessed with three key songwriters in Andy Cohen, Joel Phelps, and Tim Midgett, and each delivered their songs in their style. (Phelps is the most emotionally tortured.) Steve Albini engineered these sessions, but it’s only obvious on the aggressive tracks where the drums achieve that nasty warehouse pummel that makes many listeners think of The Jesus Lizard by default. The bonus material on this reissue includes an alternate take of “Grotto of Miracles” and four tracks with Seattle DJ Marco Collins in 1995; they let fans hear the group perform acoustically and at lower volumes than usual.

TITLE TIME

About Silkworm

The noisy, bracing Seattle-based post-punk unit Silkworm formed in their native Missoula, MT, in 1987. Originally comprised of vocalists/guitarists Andy Cohen and Joel Phelps, vocalist/bassist Tim Midgett, and drummer Ben Koostra, Silkworm rose from the ashes of the band Ein Heit; a prolific and eclectic group from their inception (everyone but Koostra, who exited in 1989, contributed to songwriting duties), they issued their debut cassette Advantage in 1988. After two more tapes, 1989's Girl Harbrr and its companion Girl Harbrr Out-Takes EP, the remaining trio moved to Seattle in the opening weeks of 1990, quickly recruiting drummer Michael Dahlquist to complete the lineup.

Silkworm's "official" debut L'ajre followed in 1992, spotlighting the band's evolving, dissonant sound, anchored in Midgett's propulsive bass work. After the following year's His Absence Is a Blessing EP, the quartet signed to the C/Z label for 1994's In the West, recorded by fellow Montana native Steve Albini (who continued to oversee the majority of the group's work). After 1994's strong Libertine, Phelps left the band, resurfacing in 1996 under the name Joel R.L. Phelps with the solo effort Warm Springs Night. As a trio, Silkworm signed to Matador and in 1996 issued Firewater, a sprawling yet finely honed set which ranked as their finest record to date. Developer followed in 1997, and a year later the group jumped to Touch & Go to issue Blueblood. Around this time, the band finalized their re-location to Chicago. Lifestyle was released in mid-2000, and they toured into the following year to support the release. Italian Platinum followed two years later and featured vocals from Kelly Hogan and keyboard work from the New Year's Matt Kadane. 2004's It'll Be Cool would be their last album. In July of 2005, Dahlquist and two fellow Chicago-based musicians were killed when the car they were occupying was struck by a car driven by a woman intent on ending her life. ~ Jason Ankeny

ORIGIN
Missoula, MT
FORMED
1987

Songs

Albums