The synthpop band SPEAK will be releasing a new album Pedals out on June 24th via Playing in Traffic Records. I’m not overly-crazy about every indiepop band but these guys sound decent! You can see the band performing live in Brooklyn at Rough Trade on June 18th with Gemini club and The Griswolds.
“What else can I say about SPEAK other than the fact that they rock my socks and limbs off,” begins a recent feature on the Austin-based foursome in indie tome ThreadSence. The interesting thing about this young synthpop band is that ThreadSence isn’t alone in that praise. Originally fanning the embers that began with 2011’s debut I Believe In Everything, SPEAK is just about to set the whole world afire with their new album PEDALS, due out on June 24, 2014 via Playing In Traffic Records. They will support its release with an upcoming East Coast tour with Gemini Club and The Griswolds (tour dates below).
Pedals is a mélange of sounds textured by the swathy electric guitars of Nick Hurt, the funky-drummer-esque rhythms of Jake Stewart, the syncopated bass of Joey Delahoussaye, and the soaring three-part harmonies punctuated by lush synths and the distinctive falsetto-tinged vocals of Troupe Gammage. The album has a density whose impact could fill the earbuds of an iPod as well as the expanse of a cavernous club. Calling on inspirations as diverse as Prince, Radiohead, Cut Copy, Sam Cooke and Kanye, SPEAK’s music is not quite what you’d expect from the indie music hotbed of Austin, Texas. “I think we were more anomalous when we first started (almost 10 years ago… Jeez!),” says Troupe of his hometown. “The Austin scene has really grown over the past five or so years and I think a lot of that has to do with the internet. The geographical restrictions that have kept Austin away from a lot of other regional music scenes have broken down, so suddenly there are hip hop influences popping up, and European dance music, and orchestral grunge bands and whatnot. Just because I grew up in Americana doesn’t mean I can’t listen to Boards of Canada!”
From the staccato paranoid pop of “Mystery Lights” to the acoustic lilting balladry of “This Much I Know” to the moody psychedelia of the album closer “Trials”, Pedals is 14 songs of different feels and tempos, held tightly together by the unique and genre-defying musicianship. The indiepop of “Be Reasonable, Diane” is a classic-in-waiting, which Earmilk has described as having “the synth pop styling of Vampire Weekend… guitars crack like whips and pop like Phoenix… infectious pop you don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying.” The breezy opening track “Gates” was actually one of the most difficult to muster. “This track dates back to a demo from 2009,” explains Troupe of the epic and anthemic song. “You know how Kanye West claims to have spent 5000 hours writing Power? The only reason I think that might be true is that we’ve easily spent 5000 hours EACH on this track. Finishing it was one of the great reliefs of my life.” On the flipside, the equally epic and anthemic “Peaks” was a cinch. “Total opposite of ‘Gates’,” he says. “This one came to me pretty much intact while we were driving through the mountains after four or five weeks of grueling touring. When I played it for the band, they were all really happy with it, so it was one of the ‘easy’ songs to record.”
Formed in 2008 in Austin, SPEAK have been lavished with applause and praise from the get-go. Winning Best New Band in 2010 and then Best Indie Group in 2011 at Austin Music Awards, they continued their budding musical takeover with stints at Austin City Limits Music Festival, and tours with Ra Ra Riot, Tegan & Sara, Miniature Tigers, and Tally Hall, among others. Recently, the song “I Should’ve Guessed“, their collaboration with RAC (with whom they just wrapped up a national tour), shot up to the #1 position on Hype Machine just a few weeks ago. While this wave of critical and fan acclaim might have created undue pressure and a real need to please their audience, it thankfully didn’t shape or dilute the direction of Pedals. “I think we might have felt the weight of expectation if anyone had actually heard I Believe In Everything, but fortunately or unfortunately, that wasn’t the case,” Troupe says cheekily. “The pressure we had on Pedals was internal because any compromise you make while recording an album casts a shadow two years long… You relive that compromise night after night after night on stage. So we wanted to make sure we could support this album for as long as it took and still feel great about playing it, discussing it, and listening to it years from now.” From the sounds of it, they created just that… an album that’s timeless and will continue being a point of discussion for years to come.
with Gemini Club, The Griswolds
June 13 Toronto, CAN The Drake
June 14 Montreal, QC Underworld
June 15 Burlington, VT Higher Ground
June 17 Boston, MA Great Scott
June 18 Brooklyn, NY Rough Trade
June 19 Washington, DC Black Cat
June 20 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle