Spanish for 100. Hailing from Seattle, this spry quartet plays something analogous
to Fugazi tackling the Merle Haggard songbook. Fractured, intense and somehow melodic,
this is country-tinged rock of an unusual breed, like Wilco if Tweedy wasn’t always
intent on making an artistic statement. Check out “Sangria” and “Quick as a Shutter”
for some adrenaline-charged, hick-infused post-punk, complete with an authentic
drawl. – Darryl Smyers
hat, whiskey, wife beating country, but more of a tight levis and button up shirt-wearing,
Wilco worshipping, Pabst-because-it’s-ironically-redneck country. These guys seem
a little too upbeat to be from the dour climes of Seattle, but I could definitely
see them rocking their Americana in Kansas.
play the Crocodile Cafe on Wednesday to kick off the club’s 15th anniversary celebration
(more on that next week) (9 p.m.; free). Spanish for 100 releases “Metric” nationally
this month and plays the High Dive on Saturday to celebrate.
EP, Metric. Rocking right from the bat with the infectious, neo-Superchunk-esque
“Go Away, Come Home,” this record sets its tone quickly and makes for excellent
listening. Slower “Jungle With Lions” is a bit longer than it needs to be (though
it’s good, catchy rock nonetheless), but guitar-soaked “Fell A Bird” and the two
massive parts to “Golden Days” make up for any drag. A live version of “See Now”
is thrown in as a bonus, driving the Awesome Badge’s pin even further into Spanish
For 100’s ribbon-ridden lapel. 85% Fun Fact: “Ciento” is Spanish for 100. Matt Shimmer
all about. Last Friday at the Tornado Club’s Corral Room, they waited for hours
as Seattle’s Spanish for 100 galloped through their complex, earnest originals,
and well-rehearsed post-punkers the Danger presented an artful performance steeped
in the glory days of Joy Division, the Cure and the Buzzcocks…”
play Americana. There is something of a roots flavor here, but we’re talking about
contemplative indie rock. Put it all together, and you’ve got a fine combination.
Reminds me a bit of Eleventh Dream Day, a band whose myriad sounds confounded any
attempt to become popular. Spanish for 100 has a bit of luck, as the last 15 years
have proven EDD prophetic. Only five songs here, but each is well worth hearing
over and over again. This is the sort of date that must lead to another.
Uncle Tupelo. How could we not? We live in the Midwest. So it’s safe to say that
when a band comes along and is described to us as being similar to Doug Martsch
and Jay Ferrar on a road trip we would be equal parts excited and hesitant. We first
saw Spanish For 100 at Schuba’s a few years ago when they opened for some crazy
band from Norway whose lead singer kept flashing/pounding her breasts and knocking
over tables. That was awesome. What was even more awesome was how unexpectedly fresh
Spanish For 100 sounded, and it wasn’t just because they were so obviously on the
wrong bill. Lead singer Corey Passons has one of those voices that seems to perpetually
be on the verge of veering seriously off-key. Instead of dipping into tinnitus-inducing
paroxysms of misjudged octaves, his instrument instead serves to focus attention
on his phrasing. And many of his melodic choices are unexpected and fresh, which
helps to make the group’s music so compelling and enjoyable. Passons is helped in
no small measure by guitarist Aaron Starkey’s style that veers between frenetic
punctuation and dreamscape lullabies. His textures are what truly vault the songs
into a category that really does. It is also what ultimately makes a comparison
as simple as “Built To Spill meets Uncle Tupelo” seem so inaccurate since, while
the group’s sound does contain trace echoes of those influences, the pieces they’ve
crafted defy such generic descriptions. Martsch and Farrar would be ecstatic if
they could write material as fresh as the stuff on Spanish For 100’s (woefully as-yet-unreleased)
sophomore effort. Back in the ‘80s we would call a band like this “college rock”
because it just didn’t fit into any easily definable category. In subsequent years
musical genres have become so segmented that it would seem any and every group could
be simply codified. (We are sure that somewhere out there, there‘s a screamo-glitch
orch-pop group playing some dirty basement.) Tonight Spanish For 100 is in town
playing Subterranean and we bet that they will, even in our fractured times, continue
to defy easy description.
thing down. Shades of Built to Spill permeate the band’s latest EP “Metric,” which
– no surprise – was produced by Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse). The band
has hit the road for multiple self-promoted and self-booked national tours, spreading
its gospel of sonic guitar revelry and upbeat songwriting.
indie bands for years before deciding that “the scene” wasn’t for him. So he packed
his bags and headed west to Seattle. There he met Corey Passons and Ross McGilvary
and they formed Spanish for 100 in 2002. All in all, they’ve had a great track record
for such a young band: Their music has been compared to Neil Young and Built to
Spill and they’ve recorded two albums with producer Phil Elk, who has worked with
Built to Spill, Modest Mouse and the Shins. — Kevin Coffey
100 is constantly being compared to big name bands like Built to Spill and Modest
Mouse. But the members don’t really mind that. `We’re often described as a combination
of Built to Spill and Wilco,” said guitarist Aaron Starkey. “It’s because of the
strong singer/songwriter sensibility.” Those comparisons, however, aren’t that
far off. The group’s first full-length record, “Newborn Driving” was released
in December 2003 and mixed by the notorious Phil Ek, who has worked with bands like
Built to Spill, Modest Mouse and the Shins. Spanish for 100 will start off its new
tour this month, stopping tonight at Knickerbockers, 901 O St. The group will be
touring for the recent EP release “Metric.” A new full-length album is planned
for this fall that wasn’t quite ready for this tour. The new album hasn’t been mastered
yet, but when it’s done the group will be more than happy with the sound. “It’s
a lot more live sounding, open and spontaneous,” said vocalist Corey Passons. “It
felt very relaxed with a lot of excitement.” Phil Ek also worked with the group
by mixing the new album, giving it the distinctive sound the group was looking for.
The tour started last weekend for Spanish for 100, which is something the group
does not mind doing. “There’s nothing better than everyday you’re driving somewhere
else and playing music,” Starkey said. “It’s a total blast for us.” Regardless
of the venue, Starkey enjoys being able to play music as long as the people get
into the music. “Some places are just bars that have a stage and sometimes that’s
less inspiring,” he said. “Then there are places that are there for the music
and everybody that’s there totally loves it.” Starkey and Passons both remember
Knickerbockers as being the place where everybody loved the music. Not only did
they play a great show, but also afterward they were invited to party with the opening
band. “It was some good Midwestern fun,” said Starkey.
resemblance to Black Francis on “Mood in the Clouds,” a frantic skat of a track
off Spanish for 100’s debut album Newborn Driving. Three years later, the Illinois
native ditches off-the-cuff non sequiturs and random noise for the easy pace of
porch-swing Americana. Produced by Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Built to Spill), 2005’s
Metric reflects the Seattle quartet’s fondness for heartfelt harmonies and jingle-jangle
guitar. Hear that twang? That’s the sound of falling in and out of love, on a train
from your hometown.
band Spanish for 100, who have been on the road since their first album, Newborn
Driver, debuted back in 2003, the half-dozen is just enough. The taxation of constantly
being on the road seems to have only supplemented the intensity with which the band
re-entered the recording studio. The band is in good hands with producer Phil Ek,
who has produced and engineered a number of well-known bands, including Built to
Spill, Modest Mouse and The Shins. Before the production of Metric, their latest
release, the band was having a hard time finding a drummer that could stick with
veterans Cory Passons (voice/guitar), Aaron Starkey (guitars) and Ross McGilvray
(bass). Then Chris Crumpler came along, and Spanish for 100 is now complete. For
this group of young musicians, song craft is of the utmost importance. It is clear
they want to keep integrity in their music — an integrity that is often lost as
bands grow and gain more fame. What these four guys have provided is uncharacteristic
of what is being listened to today. The group’s music emanates a sense of tranquility
and peace of mind in its layered and diverse musical compilations. They give listeners
a little bit of everything; from indie to country to rock and pop, they offer a
sound that a person can listen to for hours. Be prepared for a mainly mellow sound
throughout the album, although the tempo for “Fell A Bird” is picked up, offering
a nice change from previous songs. The guitar techniques used are also out of the
ordinary and change from song to song. At one point, a guitar is being played in
such a way that makes a listener want to check to see if his phone is vibrating.
It is, impressively, layered beneath other sounds, yet it stands out because of
its difference. The unconventionality of Spanish for 100’s sound adds to the band’s
distinctive and increasingly popular sound. Since its formation in 2002, the Seattle-based
group has been incredibly self-sufficient. Back in 2004, the band self-promoted
and self-booked a national tour and contrary to many do-it-yourself type tours,
the locations they graced weren’t sleazy dives in mediocre towns, but notable venues
in hot music spots like Chicago and New York City. The band’s two national tours
and their national radio campaigns have prompted them to hit the road once again.
They kicked off their tour last fall and traveled around the West, close to their
home state of Washington. This month, Spanish for 100 will begin to make their way
east toward the Midwest making an appearance here in Madison at the Corral Room
on May 5. Spanish for 100 is a mellow outfit that shows potential. Their do-it-yourself
mentality is admirable, as is the band’s tendency to musically push the envelope.
Metric, as an album, serves as a welcome re-entering of the recording studio and
supplements Spanish for 100’s rising star. – Meghan Dunlap
Spanish for 100’s second release, the Metric EP, is that it was produced by the
illustrious Phil Ek. Ek’s work (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse) has been key in the
movement to augment controlled grit atmospherics and, more importantly, incorporate
elements of country into indie music without people fleeing with their hands over
their ears. That being said, emo-doing-country band Spanish for 100 might have nearly
as integrated a variety of elements as Ek’s most successful clients, but the elements
themselves lack much sense of adventurousness. Overlong and repetitive jams (“Jungle
With Lions”, “See Now”) feel particularly uninspired next to their tighter melodies
(“Go Away, Come Home”, “Fell a Bird”), especially for the latter’s utilization of
Corey Passons’ feathery, high vocal range. The EP has moments of great clarity,
beauty and urgency, but on the whole (and especially being an EP) it doesn’t satiate
the promise of channeled talent implicit in Ek’s reputation. – by Collin Anderson
Recommended If You Like: Fall Out Boy and My Morning Jacket 3 out of 5 stars
But the band’s latest six-track album “Metric,” released last year, sounds more
like Neil Young’s emo-drenched little brother than an Alex Trebek song sample. Lead
singer Corey Passons, whose young voice is reminiscient of Ben Kweller’s, walks
the line between whiny and wistful in the slow-building songs, which appear to be
in no hurry to reach their drum-led climaxes. But while “Jungle With Lions” takes
its time unspooling into the sky and a shimmering guitar solo takes the descant
on “Golden Days,” first track “Go Away, Come Home” offers platitudes like “It doesn’t
matter what I want/ over and over again… watch it twist and turn and die.” So
young, so world-weary. Now that Spanish For 100 has a permanent drummer and is out
touring tirelessly, maybe audiences will know what’s bothering them — hopefully
in the form of a question. – Ellen Wernecke Reviewer’s Rating: 5.5
that this album took me by surprise. I got it in the mail and didn’t know what to
expect when I cracked it open. A lot of times I go straight to the music when I
get something new-no reading up on the band, no checking them out on a website,
not even giving them a listen before committing to the selection. Doing things this
way can be a bit jarring because if it’s bad, you’re totally let down and then the
reading and research that comes after only compounds your contempt for the disappointment
(more importantly, the band). It’s like when you spill something on your favorite
shirt and then doing the research to find out which household cleaner or frontier
tactic will get the stain out. Okay…lost my train of thought…I was writing about
something…a band…music…oh, Spanish for 100, that’s right. I started
to like this album from the beginning, something I usually try to resist because
if the rest turns out to be terrible then I get a feeling that I’ve been bamboozled
or suckered in. I tried to fight immediate enjoyment, but the opening song caught
me. ‘Put It To Ya’ was the perfect choice to kick things off. The song lays out
everything that you’ll have to look forward to for the rest of the record. This
band’s sound combines the snappiness of older Modest Mouse, the sonic tones of The
Shins, and the cream of all things Pixies while little bursts of classic rock pop
up intermittently. Lead vocalist, Corey Passons’ singing has been to likened to
Neil Young’s strained crooning, this is pretty dead-on. There’s a sense of nostalgia
with the sound of his voice when the band joins in. The loopy singing, the gloomy-then
effervescent instrumentation and the overall shoe gazing, lofty feel make the whole
listening experience a complete joy.
feel about them; the production is clean, but leaves enough distortion to blur the
sheen. I could see me still listening to this in five years, which is a hell of
a lot more than I can say about most of the rubbish that finds its way into my stereo.
The lilting sway of ‘Worn Round Eyes’ shows the band’s lengthy and strong reach
as songwriters while the euphony of ‘’Neath Your Tattoo’ displays their abilities
to set things honest and personable. The natty snips of ‘Mood In The Clouds’ deigns
a The Who feel to it while keeping a Nada Surf sensibility in check.
in music like this. I’d keep an eye out for this quartet, they’re going to push
their way in and you’ll be able to say you knew them before they blew up. "
Modest Mouse by many who hear them. It’s not just Phil Ek’s characteristically tight
and clean production, either; the guitar is immediately the most noticeable and
interesting thing on the band’s debut, Newborn Driving. Like Ek’s other projects,
Spanish for 100 plays a driving, guitar-centric brand of indie rock, and Corey Passons’
and Aaron Starkey’s inventive solos and melodic lines are worthy of comparison to
some of Doug Martsch’s best ideas. No, there is nothing wrong with comparing Spanish
for 100 with the quirky indie-rockers who came before them, but SF100 doesn’t quite
belong in the same league. Not that there’s anything wrong. >>>
who display their instrumental prowess, Passons actually sings well – his soaring,
high voice brings to mind Neil Young or Alex Chilton at one of his more soulful
moments. Vocals, not guitar solos, are the focus of this album, as on songs like
the opening “Put it To Ya” and the frantic “Mood in the Clouds” (although the folksy
talk-singing of the latter feels a bit out of place).
Bob Rees doesn’t have much time to shine, though Rees does some frenetic pounding
on “Whole Wide World.” Newborn Driving should be recognized as a solid album: production,
instrumentation, and strong vocals are all there. What’s missing, though, is the
sense of playfulness that makes Ek’s ilk so enjoyable. Passons’s songs tend to take
themselves seriously and the songs are straightforward to a fault. Though interesting
riffs abound, the band doesn’t break out of the rock song long enough for us to
see if they are capable of true innovation beyond their already solid chops."
-Joel Hartse (5/15/2004)
it lacks any specific characteristic. It’s definitely indie, but rocks only in the
laid-back sense. Singer Corey Passons’ high, nasal voice is along the same lines
as Ben Gibbard, but isn’t as cute.
makes you think alt-country, but that’s not right, either. How ’bout straight-up
4/4 backbeat indie sung buy a sweet-voiced guy who collapses wholeheartedly on the
to Spill, Modest Mouse) gives it a lift.
– Tim McMahan (3/31/04)
if it’s something the band themselves have put in front of me, I think it’s OK to
repeat something as perfectly fitting as this: "Newborn Driving pays homage
to the art of strong pop melodies, English amps, and Thinline Telecasters."
I could not have put it any better.>>>
guitars. The record is comprised of mostly mid-tempo songs that hinge on the strong
voice and sense of melody of lead singer Corey Passons. Solid and creative songwriting,
wonderfully implemented vocal talent, enough texture to get immersed in, but enough
direction to keep you from getting entirely disoriented.
over to the website and have a listen. Thank me later."
1340 Magazine – Kent Walter (3/1/2004)
bad, Spanish for 100 has got to be one of the worst band names I’ve ever heard.
That being said, I’ll forgive them and we’ll try and forget about that for now.
I am not a big fan of alt-country or power-pop type rock, and that is pretty much
what this is, but I work with some guys who love and I mean LOVE that kind of music,
and I’ve heard plenty of bands in this genre a lot worse than Spanish for 100. >>>
reminds me of many mid-90s groups such as the Jayhawks, the Posies, and Live. The
vocals are a dead ringer for the Jayhawks. The guitar sound on this record is almost
exactly like the Posies’ Frosting on the Beater record. The vocal harmonies are
also reminiscent of both the Jayhawks and the Posies. The songwriting is pretty
good for this type of stuff, as I said before I’ve heard much worse; that all being
said, this is not my favorite genre and I’m not really into this record.
this up. I think for the genre it is probably quite good. I’m certain that if you
like the aforementioned bands that you will like this quite a bit and it would be
well worth your time to pick this up. A solid first effort by this Seattle band"
of Adequacy – Jonathan Brisby (4/26/04)
similar Northwest roots. Or that they use the same engineer. Maybe it’s just because
of the press release that mentions their influences. Any of these could be reasons
for why Spanish for 100’s debut CD, Newborn Driving, will instantly recall Modest
Mouse. Fortunately, in a subtlety explained in a recent 30 review, Spanish for 100
does not imitate the indie rock heroes from their own state of Washington, but instead
emulates them and develops their sound off of it.
it to Ya,” a tune that features a relaxing vocal line (with an apparent twist on
the old “Daylight come and you want to go home” chant for the chorus). The band
showcases their ability to put together a satisfying finish to the song, as a repeated
line of “Say it ain’t so and say it ain’t so” slowly builds in tension and harmony
before releasing into a gritty guitar solo and a final repeat of the chorus.
and effective manner. “Sweet, Sweet Things When You’re Gone,” again goes the lazier
route to start before reaching a cathartic bridge that really adds to an already
pleasing track. “Come Rain or Shine” has a sweet chorus and features the good guitar
work that goes on throughout the disc. “’Neath Your Tattoo” is tremendously touching
as an ode to a friend who has made efforts to hide a scar from his/her past.
in “Mood in the Clouds.” A quick drum line leads into Passons wailing out these
dreamy images of “Oils in puddles / halos in light / purple soothes into gold /
It’s a rain-stained world.” After a quieter verse, we get an interlude at about
the 1:20 mark that highlights some great edgy guitar work. The opening verse kicks
back in and then before you know what hits you, the song wraps up. It ends up sneaking
in as the best track of the CD.
“Worn Round Your Eyes” doesn’t stand out much for the first two-and-a-half minutes
or so, but then Passons makes almost an aside to the audience as the background
slows down behind him. The intensity then returns, along with the chorus, after
Passons declares, “I don’t think that I’m burning / No, I don’t think I’m on fire
/ and no, I don’t think that I’m burning / Hear no, see no, feel no heat at all.”
All that’s left is the closer, “Five Hours In,” a quixotic yarn where Passons accepts
his fate willingly, stating “Never been sad / ’bout what I must do.” Grainy guitars
take us home for the last minute, leaving us with only the slightest sense of closure.
a little bit during the second half, but there are no really bad tracks and some
really nice tunes. “Mood in the Clouds” is enough to buy the whole album on its
own, but there are other highlights. A very solid debut and add-in to the indie
Dan Shvartsman (3/25/2004)
not just the city association. These guys party like its 1992. But convincingly
so. Produced by Seattle rock heavy Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse), the album
is earnest but obvious to a fault.
of Built to Spill. “Newborn Driving” builds on melancholy introspection with a punchy
chorus and a firm bassy foundation. “Whole, Wide World” bakes like a warm slice
of Pixie’s pie. “Come Rain or Shine” catches an all around ‘70s vibe while “Worn
Around Your Eyes” trad-rocks like the Faces. “Sweet, Sweet Things When You’re
Gone” showcases songwriter Corey Passons’ overheard snatches of conversation, beautified
with a not so obvious sing-song conclusion. The song titles on this record may seem
abrupt and in some cases fail to breath new life into cliché. Spanish for
100 competently harnesses the power of straightforward rock to make a statement.
The twin guitar attack won’t knock you over. At times crunchy, at times sweet and
chiming, the main ingredients are here. Described in The Local Planet as “stubbornly
straightforward,” which teeters on the semantic good side of boring, Spanish for
100 could stand to spice up the mix."
– Matt Johnson (3/21/2004)
itself into one season or another. Summertime, for instance, is Led Zeppelin season,
while gangsta rap screams "depth of winter." But Spanish for 100
makes winter the new summer, combining classic rock elements that echo Crosby, Stills
& Nash and a decidedly modern indierock influence. They come out of this blender
collecting acclaims for originality and heartfelt songwriting, carefully showcased
on their recent debut album, Newborn Driving."
Portland Mercury -MARJORIE SKINNER (1/29/2004)
well as their Idaho fixation) with Crosby, Stills & Nash’s vocal harmonies,
the chiming guitars and soaring vocals here are both intelligent and emotionally
expressive. With its heartland-rock outlook and countryish twang, "Newborn Driving"
is as autumn as pumpkin pie and the reemergence of sweaters." AstroPop
here for the full review)
that sings as though his heart is buried in the deep south. The result sounds like
a collaboration between Clodhopper and Modest Mouse. Hopefully, neither of
those comparisons leave you wanting to do anything other than listen to these guys
, because they’re really good. If you make it out to discover one new band
this month, make Spanish for 100 your musicians of choice" J.
Rush, Tablet Newspaper
11/28/02 (click here for full
Spanish for 100 swaggered from song to song. A taste of Clem Snide without
the quirk but with double the earnestness." – three imaginary girls 1/21/03 (click here for the full review)
between the classic rock sounds of Neil Young and a smoothed-out Seattle indie sound,
that merges occasional guitar quirks and blasts with a well-structured, sometimes
stubbornly straightforward sound" – Jeremy Hadley, The Local Planet 4/24/03 (click here
for the full review)