CD Review: The Spooky But Nice – The Spooky But Nice

Posted: February 20, 2012 by Windsor Zene in CDs, Reviews
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My name’s Adam D’Andrea, and I’m pleased to say that I’m The Windsor Zene’s newest music reviewer. Many of you know me as the drummer for local band The Nefidovs. Some of you may know me as that really tall guy who goes to shows and is usually drinking Steamwhistle. But anyways. For my first review, I had the pleasure of skipping past amateur hour and listening to the excellent new self-titled album from The Spooky but Nice.

My initial impression of the album, even before I finished the first song, was that I couldn’t wait to see how this stuff would play out live. The music on The Spooky but Nice is very unique and original to Windsor. More often than not the songs sound very full and orchestral, but when you listen a bit more closely there may only be 3 or 4 instruments playing. I think one aspect of the album that adds to the “orchestral” sound is the scattered use of different instruments such as timpani, Latin percussion, saxophone, and other instruments that go past the bass-guitar-drums formula. For bands that fall under the “rock/alternative” umbrella, I’ve always felt that adding in those unusual instruments can make a huge difference in your sound, even if it just means adding some hand claps or shakers here and there.

I’m not really sure how to describe the overall sound of the album without giving an overly detailed track-by-track description. I guess you could say its “alternative” music, but of course that leaves open a whole world of interpretation and assumptions. The album works great as a cohesive unit, but many of the songs are clearly influenced by different genres. “Sun Goes” sounds like it could have been on the classic Jesus and Mary Chain album Darklands, while “The Embassy” channels an island vibe and has some pretty calypso-sounding guitars. “Go My Way” and “Next Stop” have very Western feels to them, and sound like they could be included in the score of a Quentin Tarantino film. In fact, if I were to ride into a small town on a horse and challenge someone to a duel, I would probably want “Next Stop” playing in the background. But I digress.

With regards to the production of the album, it’s clear that this wasn’t just a “plug in and go” recording session. You can hear that many different recording techniques were used throughout the album, and clearly a lot of thought went into the sound and production of each individual track. This makes the album far more interesting than hearing the same production values for 9 songs straight. It also shows that taking some risks when recording can be a great payoff. Being a drummer, I also know how big of a pain in the ass it is to get a good drum sound. It can take hours (days, even) to get an ideal sound that’s in between too one-dimensional and too distorted and muddy. The drums on the album sound thick, full, and ballsy. It’s a phenomenal sound that compliments the rest of the instruments perfectly.

Since I was raised on punk rock, I inherently like my music to be upbeat and energetic. While this album is mostly laid back, it doesn’t lack energy and I never lost interest while listening to it from start to finish. One reason why is because of The Spooky But Nice’s great use of dynamics. For example, “Dollin” starts off with a very quiet and isolated-sounding verse, but picks up about a minute in and becomes a pretty danceable song. This is something many bands lack today, with many songs just being consistently loud all the way through or consistently boring all the way through. Interesting song structures also kept me interested while listening to the album. Don’t expect too much “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-end” type stuff here, not that that’s always a particularly bad thing.

Overall, listening to The Spooky but Nice was a very enjoyable listening experience. I give the album 4 out of 5 unexpected sax riffs.

The whole album can be streamed for free on their Bandcamp Page.

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