Friday, June 16, 2017

Spare Spells : " the Narrows"

This band from Portland makes a slinky indie rock that is too cool for you. The vocals are breathy like Love & Rockets. They have surf rock guitar grooving behind them and the bass buried somewhere in the mix beneath the clunky drums. Female vocals float in from time to time. If this came out of LA it would probably be death rock so it's an interesting exercise in nature vs nurture as these guys are products of their environment. They jangle into the second with a lo-fi charm. Some of the guitar tones are better than others. This makes me wonder. So if you get it right on one track does that mean you just didn't give a shit about the other one? The vocals have more hipster indifference to them than melancholy. I am not sure at this point if I would even call these guys post-punk. Mainly because it's so relaxed and drugged out there is no tension which is a key ingredient. The second song is too drugged out to even keep it up.

Things improve on "Neither / Neither" as there is more darkness to it's slink. The chick in the background seems to have a better voice so I am not sure why the whispering guy gets to hog the mic all the time. "Black Tom" reminds me a little of pre-"Daydream Nation" Sonic Youth. The vocal trade off is very similar and I am going to go ahead and guess that is one of their major influences. This song ambles with noise coming from different places than Sonic Youth Normally goes but the feel is still similar. The guitar lines have a little more hook to them which helps as well. The album is littered with some quirky noise interludes. The females vocal get more time on the mic as the album progresses. The bass really needs to come up in the mix as it would give the groove some backbone. I think that is the main problem with this album. No bottom end equal no balls.

Sure the wheel is not being re-invented here but these guys are at least not just ripping off Joy Division, which at this point I appreciate. "Dead?" is more noise, it's not until "the Final Girl " that they lock into something more solid. The keyboards actually help form a slithering groove. The drums are just getting the job done by the skin of their teeth and one of this band's weaker spots. The more surreal swirl the drift into is more of their strong suit. "Hexorcism" drifts aimless in a cloud of pot smoke. I think if I was doing drugs I would like this in the same way I used to like Psychic Tv's more surreal moments , but Psychic Tv are just better songwriters. I'' be generous enough and score them on creativity and keep this at a 8 as I have enough of a beard to realize these guys are not going for chops.

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