Carpet Crawl

Spiral Stairs

Doris and the Daggers cover

Doris and the Daggers

Nine Mile Records, 2017

Review by Kent Manthie                                          

Well, I see that Scott Kannberg, formerly of Pavement and his latest band, Spiral Stairs, is almost ready to release another album. So that means I’d better get busy and start catching up on some of the albums which came out in 2017, a good year for indie artists.

With his new band in tow, Scott, all grown up now and having moved on from Pavement is making his own mark in the indie-music world. Raymond Cummings, of Pitchfork proclaims “Kannberg is at his most confident and mellow here” and, indeed, Cummings hit the nail on the head there.

After eight years, Scott has picked up where he left off; Matt Harris returns on bass guitar, and Justin Peroff, ex-Broken Social Scene percussionist, fills the void left by the tragic, untimely death of drummer Darius Minwalla, who had previously played with Kannberg in Preston School of Industry and was scheduled to play on the aborted Seattle Sessions, unexpectedly died in his sleep last year. A loss like this really came as a shock to Scott and, no doubt, it led to the extended hiatus.

For a time after Darius’s death, Scott spent some time with singer/songwriter Kelley Stoltz, up in the Bay Area, where the two bounced song ideas off each other. Stoltz was also supportive of Kannberg and with time Spiral Staircase was re-wound and in time fresh new songs were fleshed out, developed and written and Doris and the Daggers is the result.

Some good examples of the new material include, “No Comparison”, which, as Scott says, came out of his love for what also happens to be my favorite era of Talking Heads (i.e., their debut, Talking Heads: 77 as well as the three albums they did with Brian Eno (More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music and Remain in Light, the latter of which featuring some scorching guitar work by Adrian Belew, as well as a long list of “cameos” by whomever happened to be hanging around Compass Point Studios, Robert Palmer’s studio in Nassau, Bahamas (Palmer also contributed some backing vocals on Remain in Light). Another track worth noting is “Emoshuns”, a love song, for lack of a better term (please don’t let that inapt (inept?) description turn you off. It’s not as simple as “boy meets girl-verse/chorus/boy loses girl-chorus/guitar solo-chorus, etc. & then fade out at the end”; no, this is a bit less frontal-lobe-less, in that it revolves around the way concepts of “love” can sometimes get in the way; how over-analyzing, indecision and solipsistic hang-ups can muddy the waters so much that you can’t see how, before all this other junk polluted the picture, love was there the whole time. Sometimes we’re able to wipe all the unnecessary, superfluous crap away and eventually notice that, what’s leftover is the true, unvarnished, nonjudgmental love we’ve been beating ourselves up black and blue so long over…unnecessarily, it turns out! As Kannberg, himself succinctly put it: “a rollercoaster of a ride, indeed”; to be sure! Also, I want to mention “Aberdeen”; it’s a nice, infectious little indie-pop tune which harkens back to the “cool folk scene of the 90s” that existed in that part of Scotland.

It doesn’t end there, of course. There’s more to Doris and the Daggers and to find out, you ought to get yourself a copy of it. No doubt, you can find it on Amazon.com, or through various online shopping venues. Or, if you’d like to read more about, not only Spiral Stairs but other bands on the Nine Mile Record label, you can easily get to it: just go straight to http://www.spiralstairsofficial.com/music.html, where you can not just read about and purchase the last three Spiral Stairs albums, but can also check out and get the other projects on which Kannberg worked, including all the way back to Pavement!

Doris and the Daggers is definitely on the streets right now, so, if you don’t already have it, take a moment and order one or as many as you like – right now! ­KM.

Scott Kannberg photo

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