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album: Clearing - SOFTSPOT

words: Kat Harding

SOFTSPOT, initially the brainchild of artists Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller Jr, has added members Blaze Bateh of Bambara and Jonathan Campolo of Pill and have a brand new album out today. Titled Clearing, the pals all donated their artistic talent to the project, their first as collaborators. One of the many hats Sarah wears is as a choreographer, and her understanding of movement is clear throughout the album -- the music she’s made flows smoothly like graceful dancers through space.

“Maritime Law” opens the record, with a heavy rambling bass line and Sarah’s low voice climbing and rising above sharp guitar chords, painting a picture of an impending storm on the open water, waking her up and inciting rage. “The sea said to me that it owes me nothing,” she tells us. And much like the sea, the world owes us nothing, and we’ve got to navigate it as best as we can. Put this track on to gain dark comfort that we’re all floating along together and let it fade into the next track, “Shadows in the Shade,” a much more upbeat and airy track that should be listened to in the sunshine.

Standout track “Touch and Go” will get you grooving with laid back beats and Bryan on vocals. The distorted guitars swirl around rolling drums in such a lovely way you want to hit repeat again and again. It segues into “Abalone,” putting Sarah back on the mic and launching us into a warm and safe atmosphere. Having “Maritime Law” open the album sets the scene a lot darker than the rest of the album proves to be, so if you don’t click with that song, keep going and get to the lighter, less anxiety-inducing tracks. It’s all worth a listen to, for sure. My personal favorite, “Heatseeker,” asks “am I awake, am I dreaming now?” putting into words the sentiment many of us have been feeling lately in the absolute shit-show that is our political era. I honestly can’t get enough of this song, immediately playing it again and tweeting about how good it is. Sarah’s voice is incredible, like an opera for modern times, matched with comforting guitars, distortion, and synths that lull us into a sense of well-being, if only for the length of the album.

photos: Rose of the West and Siamese at Cactus Club (4/5/17)

Guest Mix: Basement Scene