PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

The Spill Canvas: http://www.thespillcanvas.com/

Too often, the band falls into the creative boxes and conventions of the emo/pop-punk/call it what you will genre.


The Spill Canvas

No Really, I'm Fine

Label: Sire
US Release Date: 2007-10-02
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

According to the lyrics of "Reckless Abandonment," the opening track of their latest album, vocalist Nick Thomas and the fellows who make up South Dakota's The Spill Canvas care very little about "pleasing all those little pricks and all their little scenes." Nor do they "believe in anything that these critics go writing in their magazines." What about those writing for online magazines? Ah, well...

Perhaps the band's attitude is for the best, because there are certainly aspects of No Really, I'm Fine which warrant negative commentary. Too often, the band falls into the creative boxes and conventions of the emo/pop-punk/call it what you will genre that is currently dominating the modern rock landscape. Yet, there are also moments on the album that present the case for the Spill Canvas as a hope for the future. The band displays enough intensity and innovation to make the argument that they, more than other members of the current crop of young and dramatic rockers, may develop into a band that relies on equal measures of artistic viability and mass appeal.

Another turn of phrase on the album, from the immediately engaging single "All Over You", shines light on a special quality the band displays at times throughout the record. In the context of the track, Thomas's assertion "I really think it's guts that matter most" is an argument for his rightful place at the side of a potential lover. But in tandem with the rest of the album, including the aforementioned lyrics of "Reckless Abandonment", the line spells out a philosophy that may go a long way toward endearing the band to listeners.

The band seems to carry an us (and our fans) versus them (any and all comers) mentality throughout the album. This is in keeping with the steadfast bravado rock bands have clung to since the beginning of rock and roll. You get the sense that the Spill Canvas don't care for those who don't care for them. This should work in their favor, as selling out to your cause is the kind of selling out fans appreciate.

The band should also receive points for their occasional willingness to stretch some boundaries and work toward creativity. They just need to do so with greater frequency. An example of this achievement is the incorporation of funky rock rhythms and a horn section into what would have otherwise been the predictable "Low Fidelity". The band also seems to be more predisposed than some of their sonic counterparts to writing ballads that are fairly original and stay clear of too many banalities. Despite its title, "Connect the Dots", for example, is a far more sensual, appealing song than most bands of similar tastes have recently offered.

Additionally, the album contains a few tracks like "All Over You" which are quality cases of using more standard stylistic expressions for good. The song brims with energy and has a hook that is undeniable, no matter what you think of the sound it's wrapped in.

Unfortunately, there are also a bevy of moments on the album which hinder or halt the progress made when the Spill Canvas are at their best. For a band that has the potential to separate itself from a pack of "emo" clones, there are far too many guitar licks, beats and vocal melodies that sound like components of tracks created by their contemporaries. Also, lyrics about "hush hush looks" ("Hush Hush"), about how parts of life feel like "one thousand paper cuts soaked in vinegar" ("Battles"), or addressing a girl with the phrase "forget what I said / you're only good in bed or on your knees" ("The Truth") do little to advance the cause of the band or their sound.

Ultimately, No Really, I'm Fine is a perplexing mix of excitement and frustration, potential and imprudence. The Spill Canvas can bring delight with future efforts, provided they consider the possibility of stretching out and trying more new things. The band may not care about or believe in my statements, but hopefully they can be encouraged to embrace the positive in their sound and discard the rest.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.