The Silent League
The Brooklyn-based orchestral pop ensemble THE SILENT LEAGUE originated as the solo identity of singer/pianist Justin Russo (Mercury Rev, Hopewell, Grand Mal) in the late nineties. While a keyboardist with Mercury Rev in support of the critically acclaimed albums "Deserter's Songs" (V2) - "#1 Album of the Year - '98," NME -- and All Is Dream (V2), Russo was secretly stealing away every available moment in a busy tour schedule to write and record his own fragile, epic and highly personal statement: "The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused".
The resulting debut record by The Silent League -- hailed as a "a masterful blend of sepia-toned chamber pop and sunny-sinister piano balladry" (Bang Magazine), "impressive" and "heavenly" by the Village Voice -- features performances from friends and allies Sam Fogarino (Interpol), Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiack (Mercury Rev) and Bill Whitten (Grand Mal).
Currently The Silent League are gaining an uncanny amount of critical and audience credibility on the strength of leaked copies of their forthcoming debut, a track on the recent Grand Theft Autumn records compilation, and a handful of live shows over the past few months at New York City clubs like Fez, Mercury Lounge, Luxx, Joe's Pub and North Six.
The live act, a convincing approximate translation of their heavily arranged orchestral debut, is as striking for its apparent resistance to 'Williamsburg vogue' as it is for the strange beauty of its music -- as sincere and direct as it is theatrical. While sharing an aesthetic space with 'sister bands' like the Flaming Lips, the Polyphonic Spree, Grandaddy and Mercury Rev, the music also displays a strong affinity for 70s piano balladry and the songwriting craft of "The Ballad Of"-era Todd Rundgren, early Bowie, and George Harrison (with a nod or two to Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Lee Hazelwood, Tindersticks and Paul Williams).