It’s a curious thing that Seneko, a band from New Canaan, Connecticut, would call themselves a folk group. The quartet, who just released their sophomore EP True Dimension seem somewhat aware that there’s more alt rock to their sound than the category of “folk” really describes but indeed from this EP it seems they are more alt rock than anything else.
“Americana rock” and “alt folk” are other classifications Seneko uses in their bio, and that’s readable in tracks like “Mind the Violets” and the album opening title track, which have a definite Americana feel a’la John Cougar Mellencamp. The band identify with acts like The Travelling Willburys and one somewhat misguided publication described them as “…country meets Radiohead”. Those descriptors are getting a bit closer to the point, but it seems like critics and perhaps even the Seneko themselves aren’t giving enough credit for the multi-tiered sound they’ve created on True Dimension.
For a more “blank meets blank” comparison, Seneko are rather more Tom Waits meets Paul Westerberg or even Chris Rea meets the Buggles might work. The upshot it there’s much more to the sounds on True Dimension than maybe has been explored. The title track has elements of Mellencamp and the vocals are very much along the lines of Chris Rea or Mark Knopffler while the synths are sort of pre-80s new wave. It’s an interesting mix and much more nuanced than just “folk” or even “alt folk”.
Meanwhile, on tracks like “Pierced Lip Smile” and “Mind the Violets”, vocals are very Westerberg and the guitar style is very Replacements. The lyrics on these two tracks are done storyteller-style like a Tom Waits song. Here is there it’s possible that the band are not giving themselves enough credit. There’s a haunting poetry to these tracks and a skill of play and composition that hopefully is not lost on Seneko’s wider audience, because even the band itself seem to approach it with a flippancy which seems baffling.
If Senko had come out with this stuff in the 90s, they would have been huge and enjoyed legend status similar to Westerberg, Waits or even Nick Cave. In that sense, the lyricism cannot be understated. Even in a track like “You To Save Me” whose lyrics political and could seem hokey and cause some eye-rolling from indie audiences, said lyrics are crafted so well and fold into the composition in such a way that even the starkest conservative would be moved. “The earth, she’s a bleeder; we close our eyes, pretend like we don’t need her.” It’s heart-haltingly emotive and just plain good.
It seems like with True Dimension Seneko aren’t putting as much effort as previous releases to get the word out, and hopefully that doesn’t mean they’re thinking of disbanding. There’s not a lot to be found on this band online; their Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages don’t work, for example, but this band definitely have something special and of legendary potential so here’s hoping True Dimension won’t be their last effort and that they and the indie music community at large will realize what they have. Whatever they’re classified as, here’s hoping Seneko keeps going.