There aren’t too many albums that when I first put on and I say, “F#@* yeah!”, but the sophomore album by Vancouver’s Spoon River made me utter those words. Why The New Sun AHHHHH Hotel did not receive more buzz outside of Vancouver is a mystery, but it’s an album that is fun, energetic, and a just a real treat.
The album, which was released in November, consists of eleven tracks of mostly old-fashion, southern style rock ‘n roll with a little bit of psychedelia mixed in. From start to finish, it feels like a spontaneous combustion of rollicking guitar rifts, pulsing drums, and trembling vocals provided by frontman Tavis Eachan Triance, who looks like Billy Crudup’s character Russell Hammond from Almost Famous. The track that best reflects the band’s raw energy is “In the Parking Lots of the Swamp Museum”, which resembles the retro indie rock of King Tuff. The song is infectious and a little zany, but it works. The video, which is below, is psychedelia personified, and possibly something The Beatles would have enjoyed.
The album is filled with some great tracks. “King and Queen of the Razor Blade Boogies“ is another fast-paced, toe-tapping number. The bass line is fantastic and the organ is used to perfection. It’s a great party song. The Futurebirds-esque “Slippery Footed Man MV” is a slow, rocking burner. It would make a great song to include on a long-distance soundtrack. “Spectres” similarly is a terrific rocker, but one that is a touch harder and maybe a little over-the-top with the stammering electric guitar, but it’s fun nonetheless.
There are also some classic southern rock burners on the album. The opening track, “All the Dark Rains”, is Lynyrd Synyrd and The Black Crowes-esque, from the midtempo pace to the songwriting. It is a sound that many have attempted to imitate, but few have succeeded in recapturing the soul and spirit of the ’70s. Spoon River, though, transport us back to the golden era of southern rock.
Taking a page out of Band of Horses, “Learning to Love the Light” is mellow rock number. Live, it has potential to be a slow burning rocker in much the same way My Morning Jacket has been able to transform some of their lighter numbers into full-blown, head-banging tracks. “Swallow”, meanwhile, is the one track that comes closest to ’50s-style, organ- and piano-infused rock ‘n roll a la Jerry Lee Lewis, or for a more contemporary comparison J Roddy Ralston & The Business.
The New Sun AHHHHH Hotel is one of those surprises that you wish could be repeated over and over again. In one word, it’s awesome – seriously, it’s awesome.
Spoon River comprises of Rachel Horkenheimer, Tavis Eachan Triance, Chris Young, Kris Welch, Anya Colussi, and Gabriel Cohen. The band was formed in Montreal before heading to the West Coast, where they’ve perfected their sound. The sextet continues to play and record in Montreal, however.
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