Silversun Pickups kick-start a '90s-alt-rock revival

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      The members of Silversun Pickups haven't quite arrived at the big time yet, but they can probably see it from where they're standing. The Los Angeles rock quartet, which has one full-length indie album and an EP to its name, has logged a list of late-night-TV appearances that most up-and-comers would kill for, including performances on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Silversun Pickups also recently completed a four-night stand as the musical guests on Last Call With Carson Daly .

      Scoring the opening slot on Snow Patrol's current U.S. tour was a pretty good coup, too, albeit one that makes for some interesting contrasts when Silversun Pickups intersperses those gigs with its own headlining shows. "It's kind of funny," says bassist and backing vocalist Nikki Monninger, calling from somewhere on the road to Nashville. "Last night when we played at a small club, we just drove up in our bus. There's a transition between still playing in small clubs, but also playing these bigger theatres with Snow Patrol. Sometimes it's a little strange."

      If all goes well, Silversun Pickups could soon be packing Snow Patrol–sized venues. The band's huge sound, as heard on its album, Carnavas , could surely use a suitably big room in which to reverberate. Singer-guitarist Brian Aubert owns a few effects pedals and he isn't afraid to use them, layering tracks such as "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and "Future Foe Scenarios" with thick, buzzing swaths of sonic bliss. The band is also capable of a sweetly swirling ambiance–which is where keyboardist Joe Lester shines–but the best bits of Carnavas are when drummer Christopher Guanlao kicks into overdrive and Aubert pours on the fuzz.

      It's a sound that a few less-charitable critics have dismissed as a half-baked pastiche of '90s alt-rock, but all the comparisons to the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, and My Bloody Valentine don't bother Monninger. "It's nice to be compared with such great bands," she says. "We don't have a problem with that. I think it's really flattering."

      As for the question of her group's rapidly growing profile, and the A&R sharks who smell fresh blood, Monninger admits that the majors have come calling, but she says she and her bandmates have no intention of jumping ship from the relatively obscure indie label Dangerbird Records. "We're really happy with Dangerbird. As we're growing, they're stepping up and putting more money behind us. They really believe in us and I think that as of right now it's working well with Dangerbird. I mean, they're focusing almost all of their attention on us, so it's better to have that situation than to be on the low end of the totem pole on a larger record label."

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