King Of Spain started as a pretty small group: Matt Slate, his guitar and his laptop. Now, the size of the band has doubled with addition of bassist and songwriter Daniel Wainright. Although the group has grown bigger, the sound remains ethereal bedroom pop. “Motions,” off sophomore effort All I Did Was Tell Them The Truth And They Thought It Was Hell (New Granada), reverberates and meanders through loose structure and hazy guitars. Download it below.
Remember when Stephen Malkmus was a part of Silver Jews? “Secret Knowledge Of Back Roads” is a testament to the trio’s young, unpolished sound. Before Silver Jews was country, it was ’90s analog music, and Drag City is commemorating those early days with the release of Early Times. Download “Secret Knowledge Of Back Roads” below.
“I’m always reaching up to the bridge of my nose with my index finger as if there’s something to be pushed,” he laughs. “Getting rid of them was more of a logistical thing—they kept flying off my face onstage.”
It was during a mercifully brief Buddy Holly eyewear phase in 1997 that Miller equated country music to Pennsylvania’s great mystery meat. “I’m sure that, during my youth, I uttered the phrase, ‘I dislike everything country,’” he remembers. “It’s like the artistic version of scrapple up north.”
At the time, Miller and the rest of the Old 97’s were caught up in a well-orchestrated media blitz surrounding the release of Too Far To Care. It was the band’s first album for Elektra, and it remains the catchiest and most compelling distillation of its cow-punk-meets-Brit-Invasion template. All of 26 and still living in his home city of Dallas, Miller was basking in the glow of 10 years of hard work honing his songwriting chops, that plaintive vocal style and his boyish, eager-to-please front-guy persona. But he was also beginning to chafe at the strictures of the group’s alt-country designation.
“I was making everybody so happy being this country bumpkin,” says Miller now. “There were so many rules to alt-country. I didn’t get into music to follow anybody’s rules.”
Miller can’t recollect how much mileage he got out of the scrapple quote, but he’s sure he must have said it again at some point. “I usually repeat myself all the time and figure people will think I’m consistent—that it might reinforce the idea that I’m telling the truth,” he says with a shrug.
It’s a balmy day in New Paltz, a crunchy college town near the house he shares in New York’s Hudson Valley with his model-turned-homemaker wife, Erica, and their two kids. Outside beckons, and the conversation shifts from a busy downtown café to a gazebo at a local park near the hilly SUNY New Paltz campus.
For those who aren’t fans of bands like Shellac or Mclusky, the song “Headache” might actually induce a headache; it’s a furious punch of rock, noise, whirlwind drums and incomprehensible singing. Toronto-based METZ doesn’t seem like it’ll disappoint, unlike the more well-known New York-based Mets, and “Headache” is great lead-off for its self-titled debut, out October 9 via Sub Pop. Download it below.