Single Review: Spiller - 'Grapes of Wrath'


Eugene, Oregon-based outfit Spiller release their new track 'Grapes of Wrath' alongside their brand new EP 'Reuben + Coldcut'.

Spiller's 'Grapes of Wrath' hit me with a huge blast of welcome nostalgia, reminding me a lot of 90s/00's emo-tinged indie rock/ math rock outfits like Braid, American Football and Cap'n Jazz. This familiarity came with an instant likability for me, a fondness that grows increasingly stronger as the song unfurls, revealing itself to be a lot more diverse than originally expected.

From its title, borrowed from John Steinbeck's 1939 novel (and the inclusion of a soundbite from the 1940 film adaptation) to it's very current socio-political theme, 'Grapes of Wrath' is in part poignantly led by socio-political commentary, before it fleshes out into a lengthy jazz instrumental that feels like the much needed cure to shake out any tension, gradually escalating into cathartic disarray.

'Grapes of Wrath' is a complex track born from a feeling of US 2016 post-election blues. Around the same time, singer/guitarist Sam Mendoza found himself inspired by “What Happened, Miss Simone?” a documentary on Nina Simone, documenting how fearlessly she used music as a medium for protest and empowerment. On the song Mendoza explains:

"I was (and still am) concerned about our new administration essentially giving up on the planet, specifically the possibility of seeing the EPA and natural spaces going to dust. The lyrics came right out and almost immediately messed with a guitar sketch recorded via iPhone a few months prior. Per Spiller tradition, we decided to throw a jam/improvisational section in the middle of the song. It kind of serves as a strange preface to the heavy breakdown, which really conveys the big scary feelings. I like how the song takes many different directions; it could be jumbled, but we worked on the transitions to tie it all together."

Spiller are a band who combine catchy melodies, contemplative lyrics and thoughtfully constructed arrangements with clever improvisation. 'Grapes of Wrath' is just one of the 6 brilliant tracks on offer from the new EP, 'Reuben + Coldcut', a mature and emotive offering, keeping its listener on their toes with every twist and turn.

Words of Karla Harris

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