Spygenius – Windy
Before we get started, Windy (seen/heard here) is from Spygenius’ previous and wonderful LP, Man On The Sea, reviewed here. If you haven’t had a chance to pick that one up yet, now is a perfect time! Bundle it up with the equally great, Spygenius Blow Their Covers LP (due out in just 2 days – what this review is all about) and you will have the perfect gift for yourself or that hard-to-buy-for music lover on your list. Christmas is coming fast and Spygenius is the perfect gift. Do I sound a bit overzealous here? That’s possible. I don’t get excited about music as often as I used to. But I do recognize talent and ingenuity when it hits my ears!
Spygenius is Canterbury England’s four-piece that can rock as hard as you might want to rock while maintaining beautiful melodies and harmonies. While the band is great with composition as well, this offering is all about the composition of others. Blow Their Covers is, as you might surmise, a covers LP.
If you think that you’ve heard covers LP’s before and that this will be the same reworked top 40 hits of yesteryear, think again. Spygenius is as careful with their music selection as they are with their own performances. They have made this music (both old and new) their very own, and because the selections are often more obscure, you may not recognize some of them as covers at all.
So what are you in for if you decide to take the plunge and pick this up? Well, let’s take a look, step-by-step. The LP opens with the two-part track Paper Sun/Love Is Only Sleeping. Paper Sun was penned by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood (Traffic), while Love Is Only Sleeping was recorded by The Monkeys and written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The tracks work together seamlessly and make for a nice upbeat start to the covers collection. Your toe will barely have time to stop tapping, however, because next up is So You Say You Lost Your Baby written by Gene Clark and released originally back in 1967. Leaning more mid-tempo, Therapy, by Big Stir Records label mates Plasticsoul first showed up in 2017. Even though we are jumping several decades here, there is no jarring juxtaposition. There’s a common theme: It fits beautifully. As if to prove that everything fits, we’re back to 1963′s Come On Home, written by Tom Springfield (The Springfields). Griselda brings forth the Celtic folk of Michael Hurley And The Unholy Modal Rounders, but it still fits. The most recognizable song in this collection (for me), Is That Love, (Squeeze), by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, circa 1981, still manages to fit perfectly in this collection. That’s only the first seven tracks of the thirteen carefully curated gems here. Each fits in Spygenius’ unique style, where tight harmonies and melodies are king. I could go on, but you would get tired of me repeating the same common themes!
One thing that stands out on this, and all Spygenius projects, is the practice of good mixing and engineering. One of Vodka’s big annoyances is the use of over-amplifying the mix. When this happens (and believe me, it happens a lot!) dynamics in the music are lost. There’s no way to tweak your equipment if the waveform is a flat line at the top. Spygenius seems to know and apply this to their recordings. There is always some dynamic headroom available. In today’s environment, where everyone wants to be their own engineer, or worse, hire someone with “engineer” in their title that knows only how to push everything to the topmost part of the waveform, the approach of Spygenius to preserve music dynamics is particularly refreshing.
You can find more information on Spygenius by heading up to their website. Pick up their music, including Spygenius Blow Their Covers and Man On The Sea, from Big Stir Records store, or from Big Stir’s bandcamp.com site.
With Christmas fast approaching, pick up a gift for yourself and every music lover on your list, by picking up a copy of Blow Their Covers now!
Note: It looked like we were heading for clear skies with Covid 19. The variants are making a comeback, which means that the livelihoods of artists like Spygenius and many others are still threatened. If your situation allows it, consider purchasing more in these tough times. Please, if you are physically able to do so, get the vaccine! –Vodka