Tracklisted…with Spur

News / Special Features / Tracklisted / January 25, 2017

Much like the classic mixtape, Tracklisted presents a collection of songs under a selected theme, which you can check out below. Click on the provided Spotify playlist and listen to this week’s arrangement while you read a few words about the selections.

Wilkes-Barre quartet Spur toes the line between pop dream and hard-edged nightmare. Re-emerging after a three-track demo released last year, their upcoming split with Superheaven guitarist/vocalist Jake Clarke fuses together two extremes — vocals get heightened to soothing peaks, while the instruments threaten to negate any gained altitude. You can stream “Fire” — reimagined from that Demo ’16 — below for more context. This version sports not just slicker production, but a band locked in a more comfortable groove. Today, we’re pleased to bring you a curated playlist from the band, with liner notes as succinct (yet universal) as their forthcoming material.

The Playlist

Toni Pennello

Radiohead — Reckoner

The first time I heard this song, I couldn’t believe someone wrote it. It has the power to make me cry just about every time I listen to it. I love the way the ornate rhythm section is layered with its simple guitar and vocal melody – and that melody is what really gets me. When the rhythm backs off and the chorus comes in, it makes my heart hurt. Radiohead has been one of my favorite bands for years, and Thom Yorke has had a profound impact on the way I write melodies, lyrics, and even the way I train and use my voice. His falsetto is perfect. Don’t @ me.

Gorilla Biscuits — New Direction 

When I was 14, I enrolled in the School of Rock. No, it’s not like the movie — basically kids of all ages get together and learn covers of a specific category, then learn how to play in a band under the instruction of some seasoned adults. I know how to play way too many Aerosmith songs on guitar. Anyway, the second show I was a part of was Punk. I was cast to sing on this song, and, boy, was I confused and intimidated. I’d never heard anything like Gorilla Biscuits, and this just didn’t seem to make sense with my voice. The first time we practiced it, I was struck. I realized how much passion was behind the song, and I felt it from my bandmates. Replicating it made me feel like I never had before. I’ve loved punk and hardcore ever since. You can imagine how I felt playing on the same bill as them (and getting to see them!) at the Wrecking Ball in Atlanta. I cried and two-stepped for the first time.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Date with the Night

Karen O is a badass. She was a role model for 13-year-old Toni and will never stop being cool. Neither will her band.

Nada Surf — See These Bones

I used to do this thing where I would go into FYE and pick up a random album from a band that I think I’d like, either from hearing some of their stuff or because of a recommendation from a friend. This wasn’t the greatest plan, because I’d often end up with the weird obscure album that no one else bought. I’m not sure if Lucky is one of those albums in the realm of Nada Surf, but it definitely seems different from their other stuff I’ve heard. Regardless, this record bumps, and this is another song that I can’t believe someone wrote.

Fabrizio Marra

The Smiths — Well I Wonder

I remember being at a low point in my life when I was introduced to the Smiths. It was this song that helped me appreciate a band’s instrumentation and the impact it can have. Everything about this song is beautiful and I definitely don’t regret skipping class to listen to the rest of this entire record — Meat is Murder — in my car when I first heard it.

Saves the Day — In Reverie

You’re crazy if you ignore this gem of a record in the Saves the Day discography. I hated it at first and it took me years to understand what it was trying to be. This song is shorter, but is done right and still has me humming the chorus the day after I re-listen.

Ceremony — The Separation

I remember Ceremony playing this at the First Unitarian Church almost a year before it was released and how badly I wanted more songs like it. The simplicity of this track is great because it allows Ross [Farrar’s] brilliant lyricism to be more prominent. While I do think it’s a bold move to take such a leap in sound, the evolution of this band is what keeps me coming back.

toe — My Little Wish

toe is incredible and always puts my mind at ease. Their newest album, Hear You, has this song which has more of a poppy feel compared to their other material, but is executed so well.

Andrew Mickowski

Three Man Cannon — DC Funeral

Growing up listening to all that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scene has to offer, Three Man Cannon always seemed heavily underrated to me. Even though they live in Philadelphia now, this band will always remain one of my favorites from this area.

Backtrack — Erase the Rat

I’ve only been really listening to hardcore music for a couple years now, but Darker Half was one of the first albums that really sparked my interest in the genre. It’s easily still one of my all-time favorites.

Joie De Vivre — Going to a Going Away Party

Emo has always been my go-to genre to jam and listen to. We’re All Better Than This was one of the albums that really inspired and encouraged me to get better at guitar because all I wanted to do was be able to riff like they did. Without this band and genre, who knows where I’d be now?

Nai Harvest — Hold Open My Head

When Hold Open My Head was released, I knew it would become one of my favorite EPs of all time. The guitar work and tone on this record are still one of the biggest influences in how I write today. Definitely my most beloved band from the U.K.

James Jaskolka

Jimmy Eat World — Table for Glasses

I heard this album for the first time in 2009, and it completely changed the way I looked at music. I was an angsty kid that was very acquainted with commercialized punk and emo, so an album opting to start with a beautiful slow-burner instead of something heavy or hook-laden was a totally foreign concept to me. Nearly 8 years later, every time this song hits the crescendo, with Jim and Tom belting “lead my skeptic sight,” I’m reminded of the important role that patience plays in music.

Culture Abuse — Jealous

While Jimmy Eat World taught me to appreciate the slow burn, Culture Abuse reminded me how effective it can be to write a really fucking catchy song. Their LP, Peach, was my favorite of 2016 because of how undeniably fun it is. This song is a good reminder to not take myself too seriously, and to have as much fun as I can despite internal or external problems, because “at the end of the day, I’m just happy to be here.”

Captain, We’re Sinking — Lake
Going to shows in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre as a kid, I developed a love for the area’s music scene pretty quickly. I always thought Captain, We’re Sinking was severely underrated, and this song from their incredible debut showcases exactly how great they are. The quiet/loud dynamic between the verse and chorus is so exciting, and they managed to write a great punk song in a 7/4 time signature. How cool is that?

Against Me! — Black Me Out

I bought this record on a whim, being pretty unfamiliar with Against Me!’s music. It immediately struck me as powerful, the sort of album that grabs you and forces you to pay attention to what it’s saying — it would end up becoming the catalyst for my understanding of my own gender identity. I recently finished Laura Jane Grace’s memoir, and in it she describes the night she debuted this song live by playing it solo on New Year’s Eve as confetti spilled around her. That’s when she decided to commit to transitioning genders. Reading the book made me revisit this album, and I was reminded of how much of an anthemic and powerful closer this song is.

Spur (collectively)

Superheaven — Crawl

We all have really liked Superheaven for years. It’s been a wild and cool opportunity to work with Jake, from recording with him, touring with him, and then releasing a split together. He’s a great guy and an incredible musician. Plus, this song kicks ass.

Spur’s split with Jake Clarke will be released February 3rd digitally and on vinyl via Disposition Collective. You can pre-order the release here, on either black (limited to 400 copies) or swirl wax (limited to 100 copies).

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James Cassar
James Cassar is Modern Vinyl's Managing News Editor and a co-host of The Modern Vinyl Podcast. He is also an artist manager, co-owner of the record label Near Mint, and can be found in bed before 9 p.m. James lives in Philadelphia and no, he won't check out your band if you add him on Facebook.

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