~PEACE SIGN RISING~
If I was really honest I would have to admit that for me I always start at Rock and Roll, that is what I want to hear, that is what I’m looking for, I rely on other artists who start from that rock position to shift my interest. I’ve never been much for honky tonk or the country sound and the artists from the 70’s who ventured into that twangy, pedal steel stuff was never really my favorite, but over the last few years I’ve found a number of artists who played with that style enough to perk my ears up, Father John Misty’s debut Fear Fun, Karl Blau’s 2016 album Introducing Karl Blau, and pretty much everything by Jonathan Wilson. Everyone has their own take on the sound and they all bring their own sensibilities to it, which is especially true for the latest from Spencer Sult’s Generifus, Peace Sign Rising.
One thing I’ve really come to expect from Generifus is a lot of strumming chords and a late grunge downshift, 2015’s Extra Bad showcased that brilliantly. A hand injury when he was younger dictated Sult’s guitar style as he was limited in just how much picking he could do. So when you listen to Peace Sign Rising and the first song you hear, Favorite Thing has a country twang and that smooth pedal steel picking it definitely makes you take a step back. This musical shift isn’t terribly aggressive in the way it’s presented on the album, but I don’t think you have to be any more than a casual listener to hear the change. Inspired by 70’s country-rock artists like The Eagles and Poco, as well as more modern pedal steel experimenters like Cass McCombs, Sult heard Alex Fermanis‘ guitar playing on a friends demo and from there it would seem Peace Sign Rising was born. The album is genuine in its inspiration and never comes off feeling insincere or sound-alike.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Sult’s songwriting and vocals is that it is exactly what I was trying for (albeit badly) when I was a teenager. That sounds like an insult really, but I mean it sincerely because isn’t that what we’re always trying for? To recapture the magic of the art that influenced us first? Well, yes in my case it is, and that is why Peace Sign Rising gives me goosebumps.
Not every song bleeds country twang, Snow Man has that indie-emo cred, with a laid back rock vibe that melds beautifully with Sult’s affected vocals, and even throws in a slinky guitar solo. Then however there is that steel guitar twang that permeates this album, songs like Twist It Off where the only thing that doesn’t evoke that 70’s country-rock groove are the vocals, which-and I know I sound like a broken record here-just sound so amazingly 90’s. Maybe you’ve guessed where I’m going with this, because you also have a song like The Mission, which seems to blend the two sensibilities into one with sheer perfection, a kind of Kurt Vile(esque) vision of Nashville meets 90’s alternative. All of this charges to one of the best guitar solo’s I’ve heard all year.
Any artist in the middle of the marathon of their career is eventually faced with question of whether to forge ahead with the same ol’ same ol’-as good as it may be, or to take a sharp left, even just a slight left. Spencer Sult doesn’t diverge from the music I’ve come to love but he curves it all to the left just a bit, enough to keep things interesting and surprising in a very genuine way, this album is full of sincere change.
As brief as they are, all the guitar solo’s on this album are short, sweet, and utterly amazing.
Peace Sign Rising is out now and you can pick it up on cassette, cd, and digital at generifus.bandcamp.com.