The beauty in creating something new
Having grown tired of relearning and replaying their past work, Speed Stick took a different approach on their newest album Volume One. Collaborating with several artists, Speed Stick attempted to create a whole new world. The record features stylings from Kelley Deal of the band The Breeders, Ryan Gustafson, Juan Huevos and many more, with each resulting track exuding a distinctly indie energy.
Emerging out of Carrboro, North Carolina, Speed Stick is a supergroup comprised of Ash Bowie of Polvo, Charles Chace of The Paul Swest, Laura King of Bat Fangs and Thomas Simpson of The Love Language; the group possesses decades of combined industry experience. As the band prepared to rehearse their older work, they found themselves bored with the music that they once perceived as a significant accomplishment. They then reached out to a wide variety of artists, and set out to out to create a series of tracks that transcend the average listening (and performance) experience.
The single “Knots” features the vocal talents of Kelley Deal. She also brings the signature Breeders tone to the track through her guitar and bass work. The track cruises beautifully, led by driving drums and a catchy overdriven guitar riff. “Let It Shine,” featuring Ryan Gustafson, is a beautifully cinematic track with a wide and vast soundscape. Like other instrumental tracks, “Let It Shine” lets the drums take the wheel, while Gustafson’s creativity adds to the track’s invocation of a free-floating vision quest.
“Lurk on Me,” featuring Juan Huevos, is a definite highlight. While it’s quite a change-up from the rest of the record, the track still manages to maintain the ’90s vibe, much like “Knots.” This time though, Speed Stick mix in a sprinkle of hip-hop and a twist of lounge. It is short and sweet, but the track leaves people wanting more—expect to hit that repeat button more than a few times on this song.
“And Again” features the work of Nora Rogers and Jenny Waters. If “Let It Shine” was a free-flowing and welcoming soundscape, “And Again” is its instrumental counterpart—a full-throttle absolute powerhouse of a track. Catching the ear right from the start, the track drives with a gritty and distorted guitar that seems to exist in a perpetual state of violent anticipation.
“SS Grandmama” features the stylings of Mac McCaughan from the band Superchunk. It builds slowly, almost out of nowhere, presenting a soothing melody as drums begin to grow and come to the forefront. This track is a stunning soundscape of vintage synths stylings and fast tempo drums that do not let up, feeling like an eight-bit adventure. As a fast pace ride, in the end, the track finds itself returning to the simplicity it had in the beginning as it drifts back and fades away, ending just as fast as it began.
The album comes to a close with “Spleed Splick.” This track, featuring Clarque Blomquist, truly lives in a world of its own. It is another vast and instrumental track, but also incorporates some moments of whimsy. It begins with long sustained notes and some hand drumming, but then takes a hard turn and becomes a whimsical slow motion soundtrack for a night circus. It keeps the mind in a trance, feeding it with small sounds, interacts with one ear at a time as the synth flows from left to right. Blomquist’s impressive and deeply technical creativity on “Spleed Splick” is truly an experience, and a perfect way to close out this record.
Speed Stick’s new record Volume One is truly in a category of its own. The album features several great artists, who all grace this record with such powerful musical imagination and creativity. Speed Stick wanted to create something that went beyond the average, and they ended up putting something out that does just that. Listening to this album plays with one’s senses. Speed Stick has brought back beloved flavors of the ’90s, including grunge, alternative and hip-hop, while seamlessly welding it all together with a laidback and mature lounge sound. Volume One is truly a full mind, body and soul experience.