Two of the genres that we cover rather a lot here at Dancing About Architecture are the broad and swirling post-punk shoegaze spectrum and rootsy country and folk acts. It is with both surprise and joy that I have at last found a band that seems to exist at the almost impossible point where the two areas merge. Niche stuff? Very much so. An absolute gem of a find? Without question.
Now I could go on about musical pedigree of The Bennett Brothers aka The Dreaming Spires, about guest musicians from the ranks of St Etienne and Danny and The Champions of The World. How they have been the driving force behind acclaimed festivals, a music label and a record store, have collaborated with the likes of Ride’s Mark Gardener, Gary Louris of the Jayhawks and even The Band’s Garth Hudson. But I won’t.
Impressive as all that is, it isn’t anything like as impressive as the music that they offer up via this album. The core of the sound is a straight alt-country vibe, but much like the hallowed Wilco, it is where they go with that simple idea that allows them to break away from the pack. Lilting psychedelia and 60’s country rock clash head on with more than a tip of the hat to The Byrds and Neil Young but equal helpings of squalling, droning indie riffs manage to keep the listener wonderfully wrong footed. Just when you have the album generically pegged they shift focus; de-camp to a new hybrid sub-genre, often inventing a few new ones along the way.
But it isn’t just the music that is pushing new boundaries, vocally there are great things happening. The wonderful harmonies we will take as a given, but the message being carried by them is also a fascinating thing to ponder. As hinted by the title, there is an existentialist element to the lyrics, not only travelling physical distances in the search of the essence of music but also travelling inwards to search for answers, remembering the past and speculating on the future. This is Sweetheart of The Rodeo meets Kierkegaard, a soul-searching fusion of unexpected delights, adventurous, progressive, breath-taking in its scope and nothing less than brilliant.