Kind of Like Spitting – One Hundred Dollar Room

Kind of Like Spitting
One Hundred Dollar Room

I’ve always reserved a special respect for the musician who can be counted upon for a constant flow of reliable and quality musical product. No matter how great the output of artists like Radiohead or Weezer has been, it can get a little frustrating waiting for them to release new material, almost as if they are intentionally holding out on us. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were releasing two albums every year, so you know there could be a little more musical trickle than an album every three years. Kind of Like Spitting’s Ben Barnett is apparently looking to revive that long lost tradition.
Releasing albums at a Bob Pollard-like rate, this is the fourth KoLS release that has slid into the DOA mailbox in the last eight months. Of course, it does take most normal humans a considerable amount of time to craft a solid album. And with a quick listen to One Hundred Dollar Room, it becomes a little more apparent how Barnett can maintain the pace he has established. First of all, his songs are concise. Breezing through 14 songs in just over 30 minutes, the listener is not given enough time to get bored with Barnett’s songcraft. Realistically, though, these are the kinds of songs that wouldn’t bore you if they were each 10 minutes long, as their structures defy easy classification and generally delay the normal period in which your brain takes to decode and download a mental copy of the disc into your brain’s hard drive. Tracks like “One Bird, One Stone” almost sound like two or three songs rolled into one loose package, starting off simple, with quiet guitar and drums, then taking a more serpentine course through various sonic diversions of loud guitar squeaks and squawks before reaching the four-minute mark. Similarly, tracks like “Scene” and “Pick a Town, Find a Box, Live Alone” show mastery of the loud-soft dynamic and disjointed guitar soloing, substituting instrumental proficiency for repeated drinks at the chorus trough. Complex but still concise: a model many artists would do well to emulate.
Second, KoLS makes songs that appear to be produced rather simply. While there is little more than guitar, bass, drums, and multi-tracked vocals, Barnett does do a good job of providing enough tempo changes and sonic discrepancy to make up for the lack of sweeping textural diversity. Realistically, Barnett seems to be at his best when he allows his creaky voice to croon over beautifully arranged chord progressions that are pleasantly free of musical cliché. That’s to say nothing of the emotion that Barnett commands, at his best penning lines in tracks like “Free Advice” and “26 is Too Soon” that are both clever and painfully self-aware. While Barnett’s stream-of-consciousness bent can become a little daunting to follow, as he throws a lot of images and ideas at you in a very short amount of time, his songwriting quirks are ultimately endearing and altogether preferable to the aimless angst that often passes for profundity.
While Kind of Like Spitting isn’t breaking new ground on the indie landscape, they are leaving tracks that don’t look quite like those currently being made by anyone else. The listening experience that One Hundred Dollar Room provides can be seen as a new branch on the singer-songwriter tree, pluming the emotional depths that are usually bypassed in favor of heavy-handed social consciousness or bland introspection of the established guard. It’s unlikely that this album will inspire the obsession that will find you camped in Ben Barnett’s yard, but as a marriage of verse and musical vision, Kind of Like Spitting has succeeded again.