Six songs may not seem like much, but for the band Spanish for 100, who have been on the road since their first album, Newborn Driver, debuted back in 2003, the half-dozen is just enough. The taxation of constantly being on the road seems to have only supplemented the intensity with which the band re-entered the recording studio.
The band is in good hands with producer Phil Ek, who has produced and engineered a number of well-known bands, including Built to Spill, Modest Mouse and The Shins. Before the production of Metric, their latest release, the band was having a hard time finding a drummer that could stick with veterans Cory Passons (voice/guitar), Aaron Starkey (guitars) and Ross McGilvray (bass). Then Chris Crumpler came along, and Spanish for 100 is now complete.
For this group of young musicians, song craft is of the utmost importance. It is clear they want to keep integrity in their music — an integrity that is often lost as bands grow and gain more fame.
What these four guys have provided is uncharacteristic of what is being listened to today. The group's music emanates a sense of tranquility and peace of mind in its layered and diverse musical compilations. They give listeners a little bit of everything; from indie to country to rock and pop, they offer a sound that a person can listen to for hours.
Be prepared for a mainly mellow sound throughout the album, although the tempo for "Fell A Bird" is picked up, offering a nice change from previous songs. The guitar techniques used are also out of the ordinary and change from song to song. At one point, a guitar is being played in such a way that makes a listener want to check to see if his phone is vibrating. It is, impressively, layered beneath other sounds, yet it stands out because of its difference. The unconventionality of Spanish for 100's sound adds to the band's distinctive and increasingly popular sound.
Since its formation in 2002, the Seattle-based group has been incredibly self-sufficient. Back in 2004, the band self-promoted and self-booked a national tour and contrary to many do-it-yourself type tours, the locations they graced weren't sleazy dives in mediocre towns, but notable venues in hot music spots like Chicago and New York City.
The band's two national tours and their national radio campaigns have prompted them to hit the road once again. They kicked off their tour last fall and traveled around the West, close to their home state of Washington. This month, Spanish for 100 will begin to make their way east toward the Midwest making an appearance here in Madison at the Corral Room on May 5.
Spanish for 100 is a mellow outfit that shows potential. Their do-it-yourself mentality is admirable, as is the band's tendency to musically push the envelope. Metric, as an album, serves as a welcome re-entering of the recording studio and supplements Spanish for 100's rising star.