Spells What the Hell is Caution / Some Would Say flexi 7″

SPELLS are back with two new songs for your listening pleasure. The first thing that struck me while listening to this is how well they can craft an enjoyable, listenable song. I really enjoyed their last LP Stimulants & Sedatives, so this is a nice way to follow that up. While both songs are great, the first one (“What the Hell is Caution”) is the winning track here for me. It’s got a quality that melds great melodic punk with an almost ’80s pop rock vibe. Nice work!

Spells Loose Change, Vol. 2 LP

If you’ve never heard of Denver’s SPELLS before now, that makes two of us. They’ve apparently been at it since 2013, playing alongside a diverse roster of contemporaries that includes both the SPITS and FACE TO FACE, and this LP compiles material from various tapes and 7”’s that they’ve put out over the years. Calling it “vacation rock,” the band offers a sound that’s simultaneously timeless in a classic rock’n’roll sort of way, and also reminiscent of ’90s rock/punk bands like the B-MOVIE RATS at times. More “fun” than “fierce,” it’s bright, garage-y pop rock that consciously keeps a goofy little bit of dirt caked around the edges. Closing on a high note, their dual male/female vocals are put to logical good use on the last track, a reverent cover of X’s “We’re Desperate.” If that sounds like a good time to you, your official summer jams have arrived in the form of this eighteen-song collection.

Custody / Spells split 7″

Denver label Snappy Little Numbers brings you a split 7″ featuring a song apiece from Finnish band CUSTODY and the label owner’s band SPELLS. According to Discogs, the former band features members from NHL 95, CIGARETTE CROSSFIRE, and BAZED, while the latter pulls from MAIL ORDER CHILDREN, DUST HEART, and CHARLIE CONTINENTAL. I’ve never heard of any of those, but they all certainly sound like band names! Anyway, the CUSTODY side starts off promising enough—the first fifteen seconds sound like the band is gearing up to launch into a sick MAN OR ASTRO-MAN? rocker. Then the vocals kick in. Remember back in the mid-to-late ’90s when emo rock bands were trying to make it big by playing music that could slot in nicely next to VERTICAL HORIZON or LIFEHOUSE? No? Well, if you want to get a taste of what that sounded like, give this side a spin. SPELLS deliver on the promise of their name and start their side chanting out “C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E” like the BAY CITY ROLLERS. They then launch into something that sounds an awful lot like early HOT WATER MUSIC trying their hand at posicore. I’m having trouble imagining who this 7″ would appeal to.

Hooper / Spells Rock N Roll Swap Meet: Day 1 split EP

It’s a stunt release! Each band covers a song by the other and also plays a song written for them by the other band. What fun! Both bands have a ’90s indie rock sound. Their songs are earnest and heartfelt. There are harmonizing vocals and fuzzy, jangly guitars falling somewhere between SUPERCHUNK and J CHURCH.

Spells Stimulants & Sedatives LP

This Colorado band cranks out some cool guitar indie rock and melodic punk. This reminds me of later HÜSKER DÜ and BEACH SLANG but there’s also good female backing vocal interplay going on here. This is their second full-length and it’s pretty damn solid. There was a lot of this guitar punky pop coming out in the ’90s and it’s done well here.