The Silos

With A.J. Roach. Sunday, September 19, at the Beachland Ballroom.

Seventeen years ago, the Silos' first full-length album, Cuba, was such a critical favorite that bandleader Walter Salas-Humara barely missed being labeled the father of alt-country. Not that the title would interest him. But how perfect would it be if the twang-filled genre actually sprang from a group named after such an obvious farm staple?

"It's just one of those things," Salas-Humara says of his band's late-'80s classic. "It's hard to explain. It was in the right place at the right time. But I would just like to see as much time devoted to the present as to the past."

Which brings us to the Silos' latest, When the Telephone Rings.

Lyrically, the title cut is inspired by an unlikely source -- the 17th-century Japanese poet Basho. So much so that, despite being dead for over 300 years, the haiku craftsman shares a copyright. Which doesn't mean the song itself isn't grounded in current time.

"It's just an impression, impressions of the city," says Salas-Humara of the imagistic lullaby. "There's something about 9-11 and the period right after 9-11 and the state of the world that related so much to New York. And that's really where that song lives. I think that's what makes it, for me anyway, one of the more important songs on the record. Or the song that maybe defines the record.

"I'm not sure that my art is about answers," he adds. "I think it's more about questions."