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New Spell: Modern Californian Electronica

Hey! Happy June 2020! Can you believe that we are already almost halfway through this awful year? So far no Zombie apocalypse… so I guess that’s promising!  🙂

If you are in need of something to lift your soul and soothe frazzled nerves, then I wanted to share something with you that I stumbled across and have been really enjoying the last week or so, but first some context!

In my last post, I shared my thoughts on California’s Vandal Moon, a group from Santa Cruz that I discovered via Graveface records! Vandal Moon‘s latest offering includes a musical collaboration with fellow Californian band New Spell and features some delicious vocals from New Spell‘s lead singer Leanne Kelly on the track, “We Live Forever”.

I was enchanted by the sound, so I did some digging to discover who New Spell was. It turns out that they are based in San Francisco and have been around since 2003 when the founding members were students at USC. Their name was inspired by the title of a song on fellow Bay area band Cryptasize‘s album Mythomania. When asked about the name in a June 2014 interview with, lead Singer Leanne Kelly said that the band “feel that New Spell conveys the sense of magic inherent in music and technology and nature”. Since 2012, New Spell have self-released 1 album and a handful of EPs via their Bandcamp page, with their latest being the final installment in a series of three EPs* called Of Time, Part III.

On these latest EPs, New Spell is Jacob Frautschi and Leanne Kelly with a little help from friends Max Savage, Daniel Erik and Sean Williams. I headed over to Bandcamp to check them out and spent quite some time listening to their latest offering and I was quite taken by it. I went ahead and checked out the previous 2 EPs and was equally impressed. I especially enjoyed how the three EPs flowed so well as a cohesive unit.

The music itself is self-described as synthwave, which is pop music that is synth based, modern, but very accessible. They have also sometimes been referred to as dark wave, though from what I have heard there is very little about this band that could be considered dark or goth. Very heavily synth based, it is as synth heavy as Ladytron, though much warmer.  On the other hand, it is not as bubblegum as a standard offering from mainstream commercial artists like Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. Sometimes, they almost seem to be channeling a modern Giorgio Moroder. Lead singer Leanne Kelly’s voice is at times subdued in an almost Sarah McLachlan kind of way, but at times she reminds me of Dolores O’Riordan or even Madonna. The Of Time, Part II EP especially reminds me of the general feel and spirit of Madonna‘s Ray of Light album and especially the feel of the track, “Frozen”, though it still maintains a distinctly indie vibe that makes it really special.

Those of you who know me can attest to the fact that I hate spending money on music that I can’t hold in my hands, look at, tough, and lose myself in (I also hate the idea that I am spending money on something with no investment or resale value), so if I buy music it generally needs to be on a physical format.

For so many reasons that I am not going to get into here, my preferred format is vinyl.  So, while initially disappointed that New Spell haven’t got any vinyl releases, I was nevertheless drawn in by the sound, and I did something that I almost never do: I purchased a number of their digital releases, specifically the three above mentioned EPs. I will likely get around to adding the rest of their discography to my collection, but this seemed like a good start. That ought to tell you how highly I thought of this band!

My recommended tracks are “Rain” and “The Space Between” from Of Time, Part I, “Merely Mortal” and “Of Time” from Of Time, Part II, and “Easier” and “Future’s Wild” from Of Time, Part III.

That is by no means to say the other songs aren’t good, they just happen to be slower! I guess I should remind you that I am not a big fan of music with a slow tempo, so if you happen to notice that all my favorite tracks and suggested songs are the more upbeat ones, you know why, haha! To be honest, there are no songs from any of the three EPs that I skip during playback, which is a good sign, but I can’t just list everything can I?? So I have chosen my personal favorites, which happen to be the more upbeat numbers! (Though honorable mention should go to Of Time, Part III‘s Forgotten, which is a bit of a slow jam but gets very heavy and trippy! Beautiful tracks like Home and Forgotten seem to almost channel the spirit of early Portishead.)

New Spell have been in high rotation this week. I expect you might find yourself putting them on repeat as well.

If anything I have written intrigues you, I urge you to check out the Of Time EPs below… and I strongly encourage you to support the arts and buy them if you like what you hear! (As a surprise bonus, Part II and Part III come with gorgeous bonus tracks when you buy them, including an amazing instrumental version of “Home” and a haunting acoustic version of “Of Time”)

Until next time, stay healthy and stay safe.

On June 19th, 2020, Bandcamp will be donating 100% of their share from sales to the NCAACP Legal Defense Fund. If you decide that you want to buy any of these EPs, by all means feel free to wait to do so on June 19th to help make a difference.

And lastly, here is a bonus that I came across:

*In case you didn’t know, an EP (AKA: Extended Play) is a collection of songs that has more songs than just a Single (which usually only features two or three songs) but is shorter than a full album. Most often an EP consists of between 4 and 6 songs.

Finally, from Spotify, here is a playlist for you to stream the three EPs! Enjoy! As always, please share this post with anyone you think might enjoy it, and remember to support the artists you love! Even just playing them in Spotify helps artists out, especially if you tell your friends about them! Buy the tracks, or some merchandise, or see them in concert once those get started again… maybe 2021?

#music #vinyl #vinylcollection #myvinylcollection #recordcollection #myrecordcollection #birdienumnumsmusic #musicboxtw #Taiwan #Chiayi #vandalmoon #synthwave #NewSpell #graveface #darkwave #goth #newwave #台灣 #嘉義 #黑膠唱片 #音樂

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