There are certain conventions within various genres of music. Most of them make the listener feel something. The urge to get up and dance while listening to pop, throw your fists in the hair with rock, bang your head along with metal. The list could go on and on depending on which genre the feelings apply themselves to. One sense that rarely gets touch upon is tension. Of course with some of the underground genres, there can be feelings of anger and destruction, like with hardcore punk for example, but the kind of tension displayed within Spray Paint’s new album Feel The Clamps is not only rarely touched upon in secular music, but pretty hard to describe in general.
Spray Paint have built a name for themselves in the Austin area by forgoing the standard conventions of secular music and releasing their own brand of atmosphere heavy no-wave art-rock, and lots of it too. Feel The Clamps is the band’s third full lenght album in less than two years. With so much interesting music, one has to wonder just where and how are they coming up with this stuff!?
The opening track “Don’t Get Sick” kicks things off with a simple, clean rock beat, a discord guitar riff, and a subtle digital synth acting as a pulse behind vocals that sound like Devo in a starring role of a George A. Romero movie. By the time the groove builds into something of a song, the track bleeds over into the following track “Burn Barrel”. This song expands on the same backbone from the opening but now taking a slightly sinister turn. It’s that kind of tension that’s missing in a lot of albums from bands who are trying to sound ominous.
Even though the overwhelming sense of dread permeates the entire album, Feel The Clamps is not a gothic album. The Fred Schneider meets The Cramps vocals, while sounding eerie and dissonant, are still tongue-in-cheek enough to sort of lighten the mood (albeit in a very surreal way). Lyrics like “She’s getting worse. way too skinny. too much coke” are probably about addiction, but performed in a way where it could easily be about someone becoming a cartoon zombie. Again, it’s hard to really grasp what kind of vibe the band is putting out. When it sounds safe, the groove is creepy. When the lyrics are creepy, the beat is addictive. It’s a very unique tension with unexpected twists and turns of a black and white B movie paired with the unrelenting mood of acts like Suicide and Throbbing Gristle.
Feel The Clamps is by far one of the strangest albums I’ve listened to this year, but also one of the most interesting. It slithered under my skin with it’s unsettling tension like the soundtrack to a crime scene or a grave robbery, and sounding like nothing I’ve heard before. If you’re bored with the standard conventions of various rock genres, and looking for something a little dark, Feel The Clamps just might be the definitive album of the year for you.
For more information on Spray Paint or to purchase Feel The Clamps, visit the band’s Official Website