Spiral Dub Spiral Dub LP

Sanctuary Moon got my money as soon as I learned this was a project fronted by Chad Kawamura of the great Bay Area bands OUTDOORSMEN and LIFE STINKS. The output of those two groups constitutes a good chunk of my favorite music from the past fifteen years, so I trust any adjacent act to be right up my alley. But the teaser single “Rise and Shine” had me a little concerned. It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the tune, it’s more that it was shockingly melodic and uplifting compared to, say, “Pornographic Stockpile” or “Endless Drag.” I’d seen that the band also features members of DIIV—a band that I’d written off as Pitchfork darlings, assumed the worst about, and never listened to—so my worry was that this was their influence tainting what could otherwise be more of the bummer punk I crave. Turns out that may as well be true, but insofar as it is, it’s also irrelevant. While this is certainly not another LIFE STINKS record, I cannot stop listening to it. The eleven tracks on here are some amalgam of, like, ”60s sunshine pop, STONE ROSES-esque neo-psychedelia, BRIAN ENO’s rock records, sneering glam punk, and ’90s alt-pop. And Chad’s hallmark pessimism isn’t totally absent. One of my favorite instances comes in form of an irresistibly dumb hook on what’s somehow one of the twee-est tracks on the record (it actually reminds me a lot of Melbourne duo HOT TUBS TIME MACHINE), where he talk-sings the lines “Punch me in the face / Once for luck, and once for the fuck of it.” Perfect! It’s hard to overstate what a compelling record this has turned out to be, and it’s one that I can’t recommend enough. I might even have to go back and give DIIV a listen!