Ten Words for Snow – Spit on Electrics

Ten Words for Snow
Spit on Electrics

Suburban Detroit’s Ten Words for Snow is best described as prog rock for short attention spans. Both on Spit on Electrics and during live shows, frontman/guitarist Justin Berger shows an affinity for twisted guitar tangents – be they unique, calculated guitar solos, random chord changes, or just plain unconventional rhythm and key pairings. Oddly enough, though, Ten Words for Snow doesn’t subscribe to the Yes theory of overblown songwriting, as the songs on Spit on Electrics all hover around the four-minute mark.

Actually, a few of the songs on this disc are infectious; nothing here is gonna elicit handclaps or anything (well, except maybe bass-heavy second verse of “Instants Get a Stretch,” which is vaguely Sloan-esque), but a few parts of songs are capable of lodging themselves into a brain. The chorus to “Instants” isn’t a pop radio masterpiece, but the rhythm guitar part is just barely heavy and dissonant enough to give consequential weight to Berger’s non-sequitor vocal part (“Waiting for the day / When my tongue doesn’t hide from my teeth”). Sure, it’s a haunting kind of catchy – the kind that lingers and echoes in your head rather than just sticking and repeating – but it’s catchy nonetheless. Album opener “Painted Mouths” is the most straight-forward rock song on the disc, sounding a bit like something out of the early 80s (and no, that’s not meant as a bad thing). The guitar riffs are crisp, and though the song has a very ‘garage’ quality to it, the chorus still soars out with the sing-along melody of, “You resist / With level-headed choices / Too late.”

… Which, unfortunately, brings up the downside to Spit on Electrics – the fact that it is, essentially, a two-song release. “Between 3 Places” has a few good guitar noodles tossed in amongst it’s three minutes, but something about the combination of the vocals and guitar give the song the impression of sounding like a really boring Weezer. The more active “Lotion Song” is harmless enough; while the more upbeat rhythm is a perk, the track itself just drones along and seems a lot longer than its three-and-a-half minute length. “Insides” is the most toned-down track on the disc, and while the interplay between the two rhythm guitar parts is admirable, the track doesn’t really do anything, and after a few minutes, even the guitars don’t seem interesting anymore. The same goes for the disc’s title track – while the rhythm is a little more forceful, the song still becomes unintentional background music way too easily.

Admittedly, the concept of a pared-down approach to prog-rock is an interesting one. The only problem is that it seems like the two best songs on this release are actually the more straightforward numbers, as Spit on Electrics turns sketchy (at best) after the first two tracks, and that’s the main problem – a cool concept doesn’t always translate to a great CD. There are some interesting bits and pieces here, but ultimately, there’s not much repeat listening value in Spit on Electrics.