Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Duke Spirit - Neptune

The only reason you would think The Duke Spirit is from the planet Neptune is due to the fact their music is out of this world. Ok, sorry for that. But in reality I'm not far off in saying The Duke Spirit may take off into stardom. The first chapter of the British band starts when lead singer Liela Moss was attending art school for photography and became friends with guitarist Luke Ford who was studying painting at the same school. The two began writing music together and soon after ditched school to move to London. Once there, Liela and Luke recruited fellow friend Toby Butler to be the bassist, and a new roommate Dan Higgins became the second guitarist. Olly Betts joined the lineup and then the band was complete. Their first EP Darling, You're Mean (2003) was released in the UK by the City Rockers label. The band's second EP of that year Roll, Spirit, Roll (2003) was met with critical acclaim by the likes of NME. As the band was still recording and touring with the intention of releasing their debut in 2004 their label City Rockers folded early in 2004 leaving the band without a musical home. After signing with Loog their debut Cuts Across The Land (2005) was finally released. But tumultuous times still lay ahead for the band as they toured the US supporting Ted Leo after signing a U.S. distribution deal with Startime International. During 2006 tour they played to a raucous crowd at Coachella, but had huge bumps when Toby broke his arm in Vegas and their gear was stolen in Portland. Needless to say, things were a bit rocky. Just as momentum would start swinging their way they were derailed. But thankfully, the train has been righted and is charging full-steam ahead.

The Duke Spirit return with their long-awaited follow up Neptune (2008) released on their new U.S. label Shangri-La Music. First of all, Liela Moss has one of the most powerful, bluesy, seductive, and entrancing voices in modern rock music today. There are few that come close to the exuberance she puts through on every track. The closest would probably be Karen O, minus the crazed yelling and hysterics. The music produced is in the mold of My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth. Those bands are pretty illustrious company, but they're really not that far away from getting to that level. Their polished grunge sound that is infused with the blues even hearkens back to - dare I say - The Rolling Stones. While this was a long awaited follow-up I'm sure fans will be satisfied with the finished product. Neptune has 11 proper songs and short lead-in diddy at the beginning. Overall, this is an album that you can listen to all the way through and be begging for more by the end. With most albums there are a few standout tracks, including "The Step and the Walk," "This Ship Was Built to Last," "My Sunken Treasure," and "Lassoo." All the songs are pretty tight, coming in between 2.5 and 4.5 minutes each. I've been lucky enough to see them live in a compact setting and I was blown away. The sheer energy Liela projects to the audience is a true gift. Some performers know how to please an audience and really put on a show. This talent can't really be learned, but Ms. Moss is blessed to have been born with that natural talent. And while I kind of dismissed The Duke Spirit upon first spin (I think just a little more vocal harmony would go a long way for some songs), I'm now firmly in hanging onto their bandwagon rooting for them to hit the big time.

1 comment:

Daniel said...