Spells – Stimulants & Sedatives LP (Rad Girlfriend Records, 2020)

On their bandcamp page, Spells self-describe as “a five piece juggernaut from Denver, Colorado. They are vacation rock to be exact. They produce short blasts of intense melody and driving rhythms that are custom made to entertain the band members themselves and serve as an excuse to go play shows in cities that have beaches nearby.” Obviously such descriptors and a seeming penchant for wearing matching outfits are aimed at drawing in unwitting and curious members of the public such as my good self.

So, here we are. What do I think about this? I think it’s pretty great to be honest. It strikes me as being willfully obnoxious. It strikes me as being somewhat abrasive. Most of all, it strikes me as being a whole bunch of fun. I’m probably way off the mark, but I’ll try and decode this for you as I see it: The crux of this seems to be some kind of unholy chimaera of Mystic Records era RKL and early Screeching Weasel, via The Riptides.

photo cred: Green Noise Records

Don’t be fooled into thinking this makes for a one-dimensional sound, because it does not. The aforementioned skeleton is fleshed out with some superlative boy-girl vocal melodies of a similar calibre to powerpop legends, Teen Idols that really serves to life the flavour of this punk stew. Oddly enough, I find myself put in mind of off-kilter indie rock legends, Guided By Voices, only given some kind of punk rock attitude adjustment.

This LP successfully sidesteps my “genre expectations” for want of a better phrase, and, much as I am guilty of enjoying shitty three chord punk rock, has definitely done something that makes it stand out from the crowd, whilst also fitting comfortably in the company of other great bands currently on the Rad Girlfriend Records roster. Keep it interesting, yo. Tony of Nurgle rating 8.5/10

Have a listen, innit:

You can get this in the UK from the Brassneck Records distro, or in the US direct from Rad Girlfriend Records on a choice of orange, maroon, or random mixed colour vinyl.

Find out more on the Spells Facebook page

Tony of Nurgle is a true child of the North, recently returned to Yorkshire and residing in Leeds (after close to a decade living in exile in Croydon and South East London). He used to co-run a specialist record store in Manchester (Roadkill Records), and also several years as a promoter, and put on shows for the likes of Leatherface, the Loved Ones, Lucero, Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, Spy vs Spy, Latterman etc. He also spent several years DJing at shady rock clubs in Manchester, and started the infamous Thursday night "punk room" at Jilly's Rockworld. Also responsible for Middle Finger Response, and collaborated with a couple of friends on a monthly night called Refuse to Lose, which will still occasionally reunite the original DJ line-up - next event at Retro in Manchester on 07/09/2019. Apart from that, it's all bitterness and a jaundiced view of human nature, occasionally skateboarding, always exhausted, often reading books with maps in the front.

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