SPICE – ” Spice ” Album Of The Week

Posted: September 27, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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There are five members in the pan-Californian band Spice who’ve contributions lay equally on the surface of their debut album’s crackling, rocky complexion. Formed in 2018 and based across California, each members’ roots are in the North Bay of San Francisco. Spice’s sound pulls from the sense of melody and drive inherent to Bay Area pedigree, peppered with modernity and awash with an anthemic haze. The hook is in the connection as much as melody, with each song building its inner narrative and exploration of affliction. At its epicenter of those fault line is most notably that of vocalist, Ceremony frontman Ross Farrar. Following Farrar’s career throughout his shape-shifting hardcore-punk band as well as projects like his shoegazing offshoot the Down House, he’s never shied away from applying varying degrees of pressure onto sound, and on “Spice”, we experience this in one of its most focused instances of aggression to date.

Alongside Spice bandmates in fellow Ceremony drummer Jake Casarotti, bassist Cody Sullivan (No Sir, Sabertooth Zombie), guitarist Ian Simpson (Creative Adult,) and violinist Victoria Skudlarek, the collective’s “deliberate isolation of pain” through fascias of hardcore and indie rock channel themselves through in non-stop urgency that makes for one of the year’s most rewardingly thrill rides in anxiety-riddled head charges and whirring melodies. The listen is pop-induced, billowing in the air, and heavy like a pile of bricks at once, and when all of these elements atomize onto one slab, we hear how pain even in isolated form comes in many forms.

The audacity for Spice to entitle a song called “I Don’t Wanna Die In New York City” and to have it bark back through the dark city mania of an early Walkmen track is a sticking point that echoes throughout the rest of the listen. It’s been almost two decades since the Aughts’ NYC underground sculpted a movement in rockism, after all. That’s enough passage to warrant revisioning metropolitan nightmares through a modern lens with windows dirtied and pushed out here on tracks like “BLACK CAR” and the “The Building Was Gone”.

With “First Feeling” and “All My Best Shit”, Spice punctuate post-hardcore and brainy pop-punk with tightly-wound exclamations and sharp brevity. There’s a separation from where they stand against sinking into familiarity, however, thanks to the searing heat radiating from Victoria Skudlarek’s violin strings, sparking instantaneously as they careen through the former. On “Murder”, she helps orchestrate a dark secret life lived, and on “Reward Trip” she guides an electric third rail down a lost highway. Later on “26 Days”, she and her Spice ‘mates stretch light with a towering wait.

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Honed over late nights at Panda Studios in Fremont, California with producer Sam Pura (Basement, The Story So Far, Self Defense Family), Spice spent hours tweaking it until it became a little world formed by what they refer to as “the power of groupthink.” Sprinkled with field recordings—audio snapshots from the member’s every-day-lives—the record offers an intimate twist that builds on its theme of a single thread that connects everything with continuity, making it a single organism with as many depths as questions.

The totality of Spice in its 30-minute listen, with its non-stop concentrate of pain succeeds as a group exercise in attempting to control that which consumes us. That it also happens to be knockout debut from a band whose makeup continues to reinvent themselves by leaving no corner of underground rock uncovered as a conduit to carry this out only helps it go down easier. The record diverts from a singular mood, tempo, or delivery, instead focusing on orchestrating emotional drain as single impulses—fast, slow, driving, simple, and layered—that coalesce in their machinations. At its core, Spice’s Self-Titled album is wired together by brawny and brittle guitars, lock-groove rhythms, and vocals announce each moment and mood.

Released July 17th, 2020

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