Album Review: Spacefish - Earth Jokes

Earth Jokes, the unconventional, self-produced sophomore album from Spacefish packs a hefty but wacky 10-track punch, utilizing a battery of weird sounds, effects and samples to create an experimental work grounded in simple rock n’ roll. The trio are releasing the album Saturday with a show at Delanie’s coffee.

The first track, “Welcome Back, Spacefish,” serves as a brief introduction, but really it sets the tone for the entire album with modulated synths, samples and other unsettling scratching and hissing noises from unknown sources not often found in modern music over a simple, but driving beat.

The album hits its stride in the third track, “Eating Horses,” which features several ambitious time changes that are masterfully executed, with clever drum parts and sound effects, creating a delightfully experimental but surprisingly coherent whole. “Creature,” another standout track, ends with samples from a public health announcement about mosquito-borne diseases.

Vocals throughout the album are often modulated, and the album makes heavy use of feedback guitar and lo-fi drums, giving the whole record a sort of Jack-White-meets-gothic-poetry vibe. Indeed, according to their EPK, the band describes their music, genre and movement as American Gothic, creating the feeling that, “something terrible is going on (no matter how good it might feel against your cheek.)”

This style of wit pervades the album and is evident throughout the band’s standout live show. Frontman Nate Dibert brings tons of infectious energy to the stage, managing to play all of his parts while rolling his eyes into the back of his head and maniacally bouncing around the stage.

The album is punctuated with the track “Enter: Ed Tangerine (Entry Log 55),” which is a quasi-hip-hop track that sports slowed-down vocals over music that would be as at home in a haunted house as it is on the Spacefish album.  

Earth Jokes toes the line between experimental and digestible in a masterful fashion. Although the album sports classic signs of experimentalism including, chopped up samples, modulated vocals, sounds with unclear origins and uncommon song structures, Spacefish clearly draws influences from mainstream music that forms the tracks they make, creating an album that’s as enjoyable as it is refreshing.

Spacefish is hosting their album release party on October 15th at Delanie’s Coffee.