Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reviews:: Spiral Beach Ball

Wow. I've been enjoying the new Spiral Beach record - Ball - for the better part of three days non-stop. It's one of those records that shocks you, and makes you think about your wasted your youth.

All that potential that once bubbled over, and ideas that you knew you'd finish are now just distant memories as you settle into your mindless job. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just bands like Spiral Beach that make you ask those "what if" questions.

I know in high school I wasn't dreaming of becoming a musician (and those that were weren't really creating killer tracks), but the bottom line is simple: Daniel, Airick, Dorian and Maddy shouldn't be able to write songs this good, not at their young age. Daniel and Airick originally started the band to be a brazen dismissal of the folk-centric world they grew up in, but instead of simply trying to make noise, the quartet is able to cross genres and create melody hidden inside the chaos.

I could take the easy way out and start talking about the rock n' roll high school background - as they all attended the Great White North equivalent of Fame (minus Leroy's cut-off sleeved hoodies and Danny's smart alec remarks) - but lumping these guys into the sophisticated teen act grouping would be selling them short. The record is strong enough to be put against their peers and their idols.

Ball is a strong, sophomore release, full of hooks and layers that don't let up. The opener, Teddy Black, starts with swirling synths and Maddy's vocals and you assume the band is another art-rock band focusing on dark, atmospheric noise album, but they change pace quickly Made of Stone. Sure the guitar lines are catchy as hell, and the double tracked vocals and fuzzed out bass line make this a head nodder, but it’s the subtle pop structure that is so impressive. The hand claps that appear out of nowhere on the bridge are fantastic and show the maturation and restrain these four have.

They change their sound and pace constantly - like the rockabilly infused Rocket Fuel (which features some great vocal interplay, in the Mother Mother vein) or the Eminem-esque hip hop back beat that pulses through the opening of Red Shoes before it escalates into the more frantic art rock outro - but never stray enough to lose the listener or make the album seem segmented. The four-piece has a unique ability to write songs you want to listen to, without relying on popular riffs or elements. The guitar they pair with Maddy's swirling, rock opera vocals on We Saw Ghosts probably started as a simple chord progression that they fiddled with on the couch, but adding the moody textures and swells makes this a much more advanced song. The same can be said of the organ tones that fill out Pedestrian.

They make an interesting choice to slow the pace for the album closer, Man Moon. Usually bands like to close sets and records with a banger, but the slinky sound of the track really works for me. It's the only time the band relents on the whole record, and that concession helps the song stand out and is a fitting end to this album. I'll be willing to bet we hear a lot more from this band in the upcoming months, and I for one am excited about that.

MP3:: Made Of Stone

Posted at 11:27 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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