Spinning Coin, Order of the Toad, Heir of the Cursed, The Avocados
Order of the Toad.
Gemma Fleet from The Wharves joins Robert Sotelo and their talented flatmate Christopher Taylor in a quasi-medieval communion, exploring the perfect aural intersection between early REM, Laurel Canyon hippiedom and baroque musicality.
Heir of The Cursed is a caulbearer born of an apparition, a primordial memory, a penny drop. She makes songs influenced by the strange nuances of life, rooted in grief, Scottish weather, the constant and the inconstant.
The Avocados: A Bass and Drum duo> Love is a force, feel it... Love is Bass... the low end moves out across the floor and up the soles of your trotters.
Over the space of three years, two singles and countless gigs, including tour supports with Teenage Fanclub and Real Estate, Spinning Coin have determinedly made their music heard: beautifully rough-hewn guitar pop that takes in frustration and escapism, but also gracefulness and splendour. Their first album, Permo, recorded with Edwyn Collins at his AED Studios, and at Glasgows Green Door with Stu Evans, captures this balance perfectly. Its an album both of bold steps and of simple gestures, coming from a group who have found, seemingly effortlessly, a confident, unpretentious way of working together.
Its partly down to their history. Starting out in 2014 as a four-piece Sean Armstrong (guitar, vocals), Jack Mellin (guitar, vocals), Cal Donnelly (bass) and Chris White (drums) the members of Spinning Coin have all been involved in collective, DIY music-making. They may have formed out of Armstrongs project, the Sean Armstrong Experience, but their unique sound coalesced quickly, with Armstrong and Mellin both bringing songs to the group. Sometimes, their material is sculpted from jamming in their practice room: its an egalitarian way of working, a politic reflected in much of the members other music too, whether Whites involvement with the Winning Sperm Party collective, Donnellys membership of Breakfast Muff, or Mellins time with Smack Wizards.
Spinning Coin released a few cassettes in 2015, but made their first forays into wider consciousness with two seven-inch singles, 2016s Albany / Sides and this years Raining On Hope Street / Tin, both released on The Pastels Domino imprint, Geographic Music. Taken together, they sketched out some parameters for the groups songwriters Armstrong more melancholic, Mellins songs full of nervous energy with Donnelly and White framing the melodies with deft touches. But initial appearances can be deceiving, and one of the revelations of Permo is its breadth, the way both Armstrong and Mellin are happy to experiment, to take a risk on the next melody, and to see it take flight in unexpected ways.
The fourteen songs on Permo trace all kinds of terrain, though the overarching story might be that of a group looking for escapism, somehow and anyhow, in the midst of a social and cultural climate thats closing down possibilities for difference and community. It opens with the gorgeous Raining On Hope Street, an Armstrong song that dates back a number of years theres an undercurrent to the song, too, as Armstrong reflects that he wanted to write something slightly spooky, ambiguous and open to interpretation. Tin follows, one of many Mellin songs that looks to the outside world and finds things wanting.
Tin is trying to look at the two extremes of privilege and under-privilege, he says. Its a theme that Mellin returns to, with variation, over the course of the album from the deceptively spry Money Is A Drug, whose flecks of country-soul charm conceals lyrics calling out class war and stupid rules, through to Powerful, where Mellin takes on the possibilities of self-empowerment: Im talking about people that do have the ability to maybe quit their shit job and do something a bit better for a while. I know not everyone can do that. What gives Spinning Coins songs nuance, though, is their self-awareness. Im really singing to myself, to be honest, Mellin reflects, and theres nothing didactic about these songs. Spinning Coin write from lived experience, grounding their songs in an understanding that were all finding our way through the world, trying to figure out what the hell is going on out there.
Armstrong takes on similar themes with Starry Eyes, and its blunt lines about how its not the right time to celebrate, when people in the world are dying at the hands of the government, but he also writes some of the albums more peaceable songs, like the sleepwalking reverie of Metronome River, or the driftwork of Floating With You. His songs pour out as stream-of-consciousness: from there, Armstrong continues, Im usually trying to say something positive. I think theres value in being critical, but I dont think Im very good at it. Its an important counterpoint to Spinning Coins more political moments.
Theyve also just welcomed new member Rachel Taylor, who appears on the album, offering, amongst other things, ghostly backing vocals on Running With The World. Thats a typically Spinning Coin development: a group fiercely engaged with community, welcoming new experience into their orbit, and looking for ways to move forwards with a warmth for humanity. Its writ large across Permo finding better ways to live, and to be together in the world, against the odds.
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