Release Date: June 27th 2018
The Spinning Stillness are an indie rock band based in Orlando, Florida. After forming in 2017 over a bond of guitar-based music, they embarked on an extended period of writing and performing in order to craft their sonic identity and gain valuable experience. In 2018, they decided to make their inaugural mark on the unsigned music scene by recording and releasing a no-nonsense three song EP. The resulting product, ‘Happy Times’, showcases a fantastically talented and ambitious band with a unique set of influences.
Jangly clean guitar stabs and doubled-up hi-hat ambiguously open the EP, before settling into the main groove of the title track. The first thing that strikes me is that the band have a distinctly British sound, drawing strong influence from turn-of-the-century indie bands such as The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. This is something very rarely seen across the US unsigned scene and certainly a quality I’d encourage the band to place at the forefront of their marketing. Additionally, I’m confident they’d have a real chance at growing a decent-sized fan base in the north of England, which could present some real opportunities for themselves. For this reason, I’d strongly encourage them to network with bands and music fans from the UK in an attempt to build a truly international fan base. Particular praise on this track goes to vocalist/guitarist Charlie Shephard for his excellent vocal delivery. Whilst the instrumental track is lively and slick, his delivery is carefree, confident and well-intonated. He certainly has the swagger that’s so desperately needed from an indie rock frontman and I’d imagine he’d be absolutely fantastic in a live setting. Shephard also does an excellent job of moving into his head voice for the bridge, which showcases his strong technical ability as a vocalist.
The EP shows no sign of slowing down as we’re thrust into the upbeat, syncopated feel of ‘Smooth Darkness’. Bassist Harry Ong truly takes the limelight here with a wonderfully-written, yet incredibly effective bass part. The syncopated verses see Ong liven up the arrangement with a melodically-adventurous and rhythmically-strong line. This keeps the arrangement interesting and serves as solid infrastructure to guide the band through the tightly-syncopated verse. The chorus sees Ong drop back to just root notes, before gradually re-introducing more melodic sections and using his part to invert the harmony. This shows that whilst his part is complex and technically-accomplished, Ong has clearly kept the delivery of the song itself at the very forefront of his mind whilst writing his part. This shows a fantastic sense of musicianship as well as brilliant attention to detail. At this point, my attention turns to the band’s sonic identity, which is fantastic. The band are overtly aware of their signature traits and look to take full advantage of them across every track on the EP. These include jangly guitar parts, tight arrangements and carefree, confident vocal delivery. The genre and feel across each track is also consistent and incredibly well-focused, which is very rarely seen on debut releases and is something the band should be proud of. Both lyrically and musically, the band have a fantastic jovial and optimistic quality about their sound, which is something I’d strongly encourage them to include in their marketing.
The EP assertively rounds off with the upbeat track ‘To You’. Drummer Paul Terry truly upholds the momentum on this track, making use of a range of innovative tom fills and a brilliantly-written hi-hat rhythm in the verses. He expertly and effortlessly guides the band from section to section and grasps hold of the track’s momentum as if it’s his for the taking. As this is the first time he’s truly opened up into more technically complex parts on the EP, this once again displays a fantastic sense of musicianship and a strong understanding of the needs of each arrangement. The track itself makes excellent use of ambient, picked guitar parts in the verses, before efficiently building into the chorus with a tremolo lead guitar line. This shows great contrast between the two sections and stands as a testament to the band’s great songwriting and arranging skills. At this point, my attention turns to the EP’s production, which is overall very good. It’s clear the band have taken the time to source appropriate tones and takes at the source as the project is very well-recorded. The mixing and mastering is excellent, with all levels and frequencies being well balanced and the entire EP having a consistent feel to it production-wise. One thing that strikes my attention is that the band tend to write rather long song tracks for their genre, with each track lasting around four minutes and featuring extended instrumental sections. Whilst this works fantastically on the EP and is something I’d encourage the band to continue to do, they may find it difficult to promote longer tracks on radio, social media or streaming services. As a result, it wouldn’t hurt to make a series of radio edits for potential singles in order to better entice fans into listening to the full EP.
Overall, ‘Happy Times’ showcases a band who are well-rehearsed, confident and very aware of what they do best. They’ve perfected the indie rock sound and I’m looking forward to seeing how they choose to evolve over their next few releases. Thoroughly recommended for any fans of indie rock or post punk.