Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Duke Spirit Finds Restrained Ferocity Inside Kusama

The Duke SpiritLondon-based English alternative rockers The Duke Spirit are seven years into their slow, steady and soulful approach to success, brushing up against the garage rock and psychedelia clubs with a brash and bluesy sound. Their newest album, Bruiser, is due out sometime in early 2011 but fans are already liking the three-track EP in heavy rotation.

Produced by Andrew Scheps with additional mixing by Alan Moulder under the Shangri-La label, there seem to be some new influences apparent as front woman Liela Moss moves away from her confessionals and gives the band's historically punishing guitar sound more polish. The direction is the right one with deeper and easily relatable music.

The Duke Spirit finds beatific ferocity inside a three-track EP, Kusama.

Along with Kusama, The Duke Spirit simultaneously released a free track, Villain, on their website. Between the four tracks released to date, there is no mistake that Bruiser will be one of their finest hours. What makes it work is the mix of rough and tumble rock alongside reflective broodiness. Villain is powerful enough you'll wish it came out along with Kusama.

Kusama is still solid. Everybody's Under Your Spell is the driver of the three, with Northbound receiving the most early attention. Victory works too, but feels overly restrained for a band that plays as if it is on the verge of breaking into a runaway jam. No surprise. That sometimes happens live.

It's not the only changes fans can expect from Moss, Luke Ford, Toby Butler, and Oliver Betts. Marc Sallis is picking up the bass, making the band a quintet while Butler is picking up the guitar. Overall, all of it feels deliberate, although sometimes plodding, with all the original power lurking in the wings.

It's good to hear. Some people wondered what might happen as Moss put her foot in fashion too. No worries there. She more or less told SPIN that her head is solidly on the music as opposed to a package.

"I was always a tomboy in jeans," Moss told SPIN about her becoming a fashion muse. "I would hate a fluffed up, bullshit experience of performing in costume. Starting a new record, it had to be about the songs, and I haven't really given anything else much thought."

Still, as a front woman, everything seems to work for Moss. She has the right look, the right voice, and a stage presence that she says comes from watching bands as a teenager, with most of her influences being male. Ironically, she may have never made a move toward music if it wasn't for Luke Ford.

The two of them shared apartments together. She has previously credited him for encouraging her to overcome shyness and step up in front. You would never know that today, especially if you have a chance to see her on stage.

Kusama By The Duke Spirit Provides The Perfect Precursor With A 6.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

If you can only keep two tracks, Everybody's Under Your Spell and downloading Villain for free is the right way to go. However, Northbound provides enough appeal to make owning them all a nice collection that highlights a full range of sound.

You can pick up Kusama by The Duke Spirit on iTunes. Kusama EP in also on Amazon. They will also be playing the Roxy in Los Angeles on Dec. 30, which will almost certainly introduce concert-goers to more material on their upcoming Bruiser album.
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