Maybe I’m finally showing my age, but I’ve gotten to the point where it takes something really special in the indie rock sphere to impress me. Albums still come through occasionally that scratch that itch I felt so often throughout college and much of my 20s, but few things really stick and weave their way into my brain like they used to. I still keep my ears out though for new bands and tunes that can bring those earworm melodies packaged with interesting songwriting that deftly balances hooks with more challenging meat that I crave. This is exactly what drew my attention to Richmond, VA’s Spooky Cool when I found their debut EP Every Thing Ever in my inbox. Formed in 2015, the band blend the big hooks and powerful melodies of classic indie like The Pixies, unconventional art-rock/pop noodling and vocal stylings reminiscent of Dave Longstreth and Dirty Projectors, with the occasional outbursts of angular guitars and noise that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Deerhoof record. The band have already premiered the excellent tracks “Strange Rooms” and “Old Hair Mine,” which you can hear on their Bandcamp. We are pleased to be premiering another track, the epically groovy “Black Wine,” which you can listen to below!
Of the track, Spooky Cool’s lead singer and guitarist Zac Hryciak has this to say:
“In keeping with the dreamy, apocalyptic aesthetic of the rest of the record, Black Wine explores some of my earliest experiences with existential dread. My childhood, comfortable and banal as it was, still holds some great, inscrutable revelations in retrospect. There is still much thematic material to explore there.”
Existentialism aside (a topic many of us here at Heavy Blog care deeply about), what I love about “Black Wine” is the shapeshifting nature of it that takes us on a real journey throughout. It begins with a jagged pop motif featuring math rock guitar tones ala And So I Watch You From Afar and Vasa (it’s not lost on me that guitarist Zavi Harman comes from a math rock background), then switches to a sweet hooky middle section that would serve as the triumphant climax for most other bands. Instead, it resolves into a fuzzed-out groove culminating in a heavy, bordering on alt-metal, jam by the end. It’s a fascinating mixture of sounds and influences that could easily turn into a formless mess if not for the tight composition acuity of Hryciak. It’s rare to hear music in the indie rock/pop sphere that can so confidently turn on a dime from knotty guitars and dense rhythms to instantly memorable leads and melodies. Spooky Cool excel at both of these things on “Black Wine” and Every Thing Ever as a whole and could likely find plenty of success focusing on either side solely. It’s far more compelling though to see them explore both and the tension that resides in placing music so immediate with passages that take a few listens to truly digest. If this sounds familiar because it’s how I’ve talked about Bent Knee in the past, then that’s by design as Spooky Cool, while sounding very little like the Boston art rock outfit, use a similar approach to their music with similar success.
“Black Wine” is a great introduction to the band and represents Every Thing Ever well. The EP, which drops 8/3 via Citrus City Records, is a gangbusters opening statement for the group, one that will hopefully lead to many great things to come.