Spies: “The new album is about coping with change. It’s about the inevitability of it in life”

Sometimes you love a band, and then they simply disappear. When you’re inclined to an affection towards a local act who even founded their own little scene through a label (Trout Records), and stoked it with their own boisterous, guitar-mashing live shows, these kind of ‘fade aways’ seems to happen all too often. Sometimes, likes with Spies in 2018, they band later returns in a blaze of glory.

The return of this particular fiery band whose early EPs set tongues wagging could hardly be more well-timed. Dublin’s rock scene is on quite a high, recently prompting a feature in NME which waxed lyrical about the strength of the city’s output, hyping the likes of Girl Band, Fontaines D.C., The Murder Capital and Silverbacks.

With the return of Spies accompanied by a long overdue debut album in ‘Constancy’ (the band formed way back in 2011), there’s a marked change in style and substance. There are still plenty of those guitars, but gone are their overpowering domination, with elements of synth work and even a mellow album-closing ballad adding depth to Spies’ palette.

“We wanted to work on an album properly, so we took a step back from gigging. When the album was complete, we couldn’t see the wood for the trees,” vocalist Michael Broderick explains. “We weren’t really sure how good it was, so we decided to let it rest.” When the band finally returned to the stage with a new single in April of this year, it had been nearly two years since their last show.

“We started thinking about the keyboards and stuff when we finished producing our last EP, at The Meadow,” Broderick says of the stylistic change prevalent on the release, which follows three earlier short-form records. “We saw what we could do with all the equipment they had down there.”

“The new album is about coping with change. It’s about the inevitability of it in life, about how you can’t control your environment, so you have a really limited amount of control about how things change around you.”

Music Alliance Pact: November 2014

music alliance pact

I feel particularly fortunate this month to have been given permission to put forward one of my favorite hometown acts, SPIES, as the Irish represenatative for MAP. I’m obviously not the only one waxing lyrical about these Manchunian-inspired Dubs, either, with our resident Italian blogger Robbie immediately picking up on ‘Moosehead’ and featuring it on his monthly MAPCast, here. If you’re particularly taken with SPIES, I have a feature on Trout Records, their in-house record company, in this month’s second print edition of The Thin Air, too. Because, well, avail your ears…

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 22-track compilation through Dropbox here.

IRELAND: Hendicott Writing
Hyped up by authorities as hefty as The Guardian and NME, Dublin’s SPIES are widely seen as the city’s next big thing. Moosehead is the latest of their slow to emerge singles, released on the band’s own Trout Records label. Leaning on the same glorious desolation that fronted Factory Records’ world-renowned soundscapes, it’s a jittery, dingy piece of indie-rock that brings atmospheric depression up to date. Think social awkwardness meets Interpol, and put a hefty bookmark on this space.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Tomás FerreroCuando Te Hablo
In March 2013, a mixed group of musicians gathered together in Cordoba and Buenos Aires to play some songs and sound pieces composed with lyrics taken from the work of a federal collective of artists called Esta Vida No Otra. Some of them recorded the results several months later, and those tracks were then released as a compilation titled 15 Artistas Cantan Esta Vida No Otra. The song we have selected from this album, also available for free at Bandcamp, is Cuando Te Hablo by Tomás Ferrero from the band Rayos Láser.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Open SwimmerSugar Bowl
Open Swimmer’s version of pop is jarring, even discordant at first, but it’s this blatantly simple approach that has us hooked. (Dirty Projectors fans, pay attention now.) Sugar Bowl is a brilliant introduction to the band; playful yodelling is cut and pasted along a steady 4/4 drum beat, while witty banter takes the fore. Songwriter Ben TD was based in Glasgow for seven years, touring extensively and landing multiple sessions on BBC Radio One and a stint at T in the Park before settling in Melbourne. The band comprises some of Melbourne’s most admired independent music alumni (The Harpoons, Seagull). Expect to hear a lot more from this group.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Alessandra LeãoMofo
Alessandra Leão shows off her experimental side with Mofo, taken from her new EP, Pedra De Sal. Avoiding the world music sound from other works, this song has dark music and some weird programming that fits the angst of the lyrics.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
Beach SeasonMidnights
There’s not actually much out there on Beach Season besides the fact the project is from Calgary. The smooth vocals of Midnights complements the hip-hop influenced rhythms. This is a duo that won’t be much of a mystery for long.