Monday, December 3, 2012
Spanish for 100 - self released
Spanish for 100 is from the northern west coast in Seattle, WA where the sunny surf sound of their southern counterparts has been turned grey and slightly mathy in the case of this four piece that's been around for almost ten years honing this impressive layered quirky pop and indie country sound.
A-Side's "Wallace" bursts in with a dueling guitar, power strums fighting against the creeping mathy cracks in this melody. Damn near everything on this is in a constant state of change, clickity rim shot rhythms and heavy single note electric scales, power bar bent chords...all of it prone to stopping on a dime and reversing direction playing into their overall pop sound that goes straight to a Built to Spill, Modest Mouse place with Corey Passons vocals reaching into vibrato upper falsetto registers like Geddy Lee (well I know him and he does). The rest of the band comes into focus with backup, almost southern classic rock harmony parts that take on the rockin good time. Even with the heavy emphasis on those crafty stops and changes, it's done with a soft hand, counterintuitively they aren't hard abrasive cuts, it feels like natural and organic for the song to be taking on this number of melodies and warming you up to the idea of it's complexity. It leaves it hard to pin down but nothing you can't sing along to eventually. There's nothing wrong with a Lilys type of dense music challenge like this which also for better or worse prevents anyone from attempting a cover.
B-Side's "Wanting" opens up with Corey's slightly warbling high vocal, in the vein of Ben Gibbard this time over a slow snare roll, building up a softer, narrative place. The power pop gives way to this alt-country lean where they go straight for the great songwriting mantle and set aside all the crazy 4-track experiments and fret gymnastics to focus on that timeless Wilco or Calexico feel. The whole sound slowly builds with no problem of restraint, barely brushed strings and bass with breathing room that ends up in an almost '70s radio ballad place, with blazing harmonies that keep climbing.
Get this one in matchbook style letterpressed cardboard sleeve from the band direct.
Here's the A-Side, "Wallace":