Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spellbound in Seattle: Craft Spells -- Idle Labor

Despite only getting the first glimmers of spring here in Seattle, my summer soundtrack just became considerably more robust with last week's release of Idle Labor by Craft Spells. Craft Spells was founded by Justin Vallesteros, who is from the Seattle area, but until his recent move back was living in Stockton, California. He has been recording as Craft Spells for a few years and has a couple of 7" to his credit. Recording Idle Labor was a solo project, but he recently formed a band consisting of himself (guitar), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), Javier Suarez (guitar), and Peter Michel (drums) to play live and promote the album.

"Party Talk"

The style is jangly guitar chords over synth rhythms, with baritone vocals that have a haunting Joy Division/New Order quality. While I love nearly all of the music of my adopted city, I think the sound from Craft Spells is a welcome addition to the mix: A jangling, chiming counterpoint to alt-country and steel pedal guitar. I suppose there will be a tendency to burden them with a genre, and if so, it likely will be bedroom pop. But I argue that additional elements of new wave and modern production burst them out of the confines of bedroom pop. And I think that over time this band will resist the confines or any narrow category.

"Scandinavian Crush"

And the same song live, last weekend here in Seattle, to demonstrate how the sound becomes more guitar-oriented live.

As you can hear, in a live performance the guitar sound is predominant, resulting in a more organic sound.

"You Should Close the Door"

Idle Labor is on the Captured Tracks label, as is Beach Fossils, and the two groups have been touring together.

"The Frog Rose High"

And here is a jangly gem from the back catalog -- "Sun Trails"

Craft Spells Myspace

Craft Spells on Facebook

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