Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Singer-songwriter storytelling and soul-baring usually give me that Barbara Walters-interview, I-have-got-to-brush-my-teeth feeling, but I make an unapologetic exception for Walter Salas-Humara. As leader of the Silos—whose virtually perfect self-titled, major-label debut (on RCA in 1990) was both a tragically and inexplicably missed shot at the mainstream—Salas-Humara has produced ungenred rock unadorned, direct, and yes, sincere enough to win over devotees of any number of fragmented pop sub-styles. But the first half of Radar finds him toying with alternative sounds. He croaks the closing countdown of “Three, Two, One and More” in a lower-register, Stephen Malkmus-style groan, and the sustained guitar and violin lines of “Be Honest With Me” suggest the ocean-swell drones of Brian Eno’s Another Green World. What would be Side 2 of a vinyl release treads more familiar turf, however. Several tracks highlight the vocals of Amy Allison, a veteran of Silos sessions, whose reedy, nasal twang is more distinctive, tender, and harmony-destined than even Syd Straw’s. Ultimately, though, Salas-Humara gets to have it both ways. When it’s revealed that “Evangeline”—who takes “the Grapevine to Los Angeles,” à la Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain‘s “Unfair”—“listens to nothing but pavement,” it’s left unsaid whether her jones is for the skewed tunes of Stockton’s finest or the singing of her wheels on the highway.