Issue #20.39 :: 04/22/2009 - 04/28/2009
"For the Cause"
BY JOSH RUFFIN
"For the Cause"
Release date: May 19
AUGUSTA, GA - Right off, I’ll give Atlanta’s Romeo Spike credit for one thing: they provided me with the kind of surprise usually reserved for me when I research heavy-hitting bands like Cobalt or Plague Bringer. With regards to the latter two, it constantly astounds me that they can achieve, let alone maintain, the kind of racket they do with only two members each. Romeo Spike, however, manage to pull off this same trick, not in the context of blunt-force trauma, but with the series of sophisticated, stupefyingly layered pop mini-opuses that comprise “For the Cause.”
Seriously, these dudes take dream pop not just further down the same linear path trod by Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, but veer off into side roads that lead, presumably, to Yellow Submarine-like fields littered with stockpiles of cabernet, condoms and early '80s space-rock vinyl. “Specter’s Ghost,” with its keyboard-doubled-by-fuzz-guitar melodies, hand claps, and slow-funk bass line, is not only the album’s centerpiece and aural definition of this group’s aesthetic, but is quite possibly this writer’s favorite song of the year. And did I mention the Southern rock? Yeah, there’s Southern rock here too, somehow, both in style and in sentiment. Donn Aaron’s pedal steel is a clandestine secret weapon, and the bluesy, guitar-driven title track is the sexiest thing you’re likely to encounter not involving the words “Heidi” and “Klum.”
And then there are the heartbreakers and the soul-crushers. If “Candy Heart” is a futuristic hangover ballad that probably hit its head on the toilet after passing out, then “Seasick” is the hangover breakfast. Elsewhere, Mike Kunz ventures into the cellar of his vocal range, channeling his inner Nick Cave on “It’s Only Real,” while “Sara Baby” is that rare, elusive tune that can make both the day brighter and the night darker—it’s what you listen to at dawn during a rainstorm. If you know what’s good for you.