The Duke Spirit

This was a thing I was writing for Fact’s ‘new talent’ segment. It got kiboshed when it turned out they’ve been around for a few years. But, you know, I wrote it, and I love their last album, so it’s going here. I might write more about them, when I stop forgetting what it is I’m supposed to be writing.

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We at FACT love a nice bit of femme-fronted rock. We cried when Be Your Own Pet! split, and probably also when Sleater-Kinney did, too. We’re emotional like that. Thankfully, the Duke Spirit are here to return a bit of grit and weight to a musical not-scene that too often strays on the side of twee (Howling Bells and Ting Tings, we mean you). Not overly new, TDS released their second album, Neptune, early last year. Produced by Chris Goss, the man who gave Kyuss and QOTSA albums their sound, it’s dark and moody to an almost PJ Harvey or Mark Lanegan extent, and with ludicrously strong songwriting.

Breakthrough single ‘The Step and the Walk’ appeared on MTVs ‘The Hills’, which may turn off the elitists, but this is sonically miles away from that show’s usual Cali-emo soundtrackers. It kicks off like a sultry take on Tom Waits’ Wire-opening ‘Way Down in the Hole’, and blossoms into a king-sized chorus. Aside from the cult-cool colleagues, their secret weapon is singer Liela Moss. Specifically: she can sing, really well. It’s refreshing that Liela riffs around the basic melody of a given song with an aplomb and ferocity so lacking in an age where singers cling desperately to set notes like grim, Pro-Tools-programmed, death. Their current album is an individual, perfectly paced gem. Their next one should be a monster.

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