The Spires

A Way of Seeing

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The Spires once cut an entire album of Velvet Underground covers, and it's not hard to imagine why the notion would appeal to them -- the Spires sound as if they were raised on a steady diet of the post-Cale Velvets and the Clean, and if they don't manage to conjure up the same sort of energy common to either band, they have the moody attitude and vocal mannerisms down pat (Jason Bays sure doesn't sound like a guy from California). A Way of Seeing, the Spires' third full-length album, is all lean scratchy/jangly guitars, slightly dour midtempo melodies, and a simple, understated rhythm section that keeps the pulse moving while Bays sings his cryptic songs in a voice that suggests he might just care, though he's certainly not going to work up a sweat about it. The Spires certainly know how to work the rudiments of their approach by now, and if this album never quite escapes the shadow of its clear influences, there's no arguing that Bays, drummer Colleen Coffey, and bassist Catelyn Kindred can emulate their precursors very well indeed, while even adding a bit of their own personality to the mixture. And Bays is a strong enough songwriter and guitarist that these simple tunes often reveal more layers than one might expect, with an intelligence and sophistication that belie the simple frameworks. The Spires need to bring more aural variety to their recordings, and A Way of Seeing says pretty much all it has to say well before the eight-minute "All You People" finally winds to a close, but this album is clearly the work of a group with no small amount of potential, and the Spires seem to be on their way to making something of their obvious talent.

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