Rules? What Rules?! Spurge Dazzles with Sonically Diverse Self-Titled LP
Jen Hodges. Remember that name, because it belongs to the architect of one of Atlanta’s most brilliant and interesting bands: Spurge.
On their latest album, an eponymous DIY effort consisting of eight tracks (six pieces of music and two pitch-shifted, crackly spoken word interludes) which are divided into three distinct “sides” (vinyl enthusiasts will understand), Spurge leaves no stone unturned, delving deeply into any and every conceivable artistic subgenre of rock with magnificent results.
From the profoundly reflective, emotionally stirring, slightly psychedelic post rock grandeur of album opener “A Pile of Ivory Shapes”, to the captivating collision of latin percussion, Porcupine Tree-esque guitar riffs, and didgeridoos - yes didgeridoos - present on “Circadian Rhythm”, to the unpredictable jazz and reggae-infused avant garde jam that is “Shrink Marks”, the record’s first side showcases Spurge’s - and Hodges’ - wildly free, experimental spirit and unabashed ambition.
Consisting only of the Bob Dylan-esque protest ballad “America” (which features guest vocalist Daniel Berson) and tranquil, banjo-led acoustic instrumental “River”, side two offers listeners a lighter, softer side of Spurge - one that draws from the rich tradition of American folk music.
The third side of the album is made up entirely of assorted live cuts taken from two different Spurge sets - one in 2017 at Madlife in Roswell, GA, and one from earlier this year at the Masquerade in Atlanta. The individual instrumental pieces presented here are untitled, and that’s perfectly okay, as the listener will most likely find themself too entranced by the blissful ebb and flow of each piece into the next - interrupted only by occasional (and brief) onstage banter from Hodges - to be overly concerned with what each song is called.
There’s a lot to take in on Spurge, and not much more than an infinitesimally thin common thread linking each set of ideas to the next. But that is, ultimately, what makes the record such an exciting and engaging listening experience. Jen Hodges and co. rip up the rulebook on Spurge and dare you to set aside all preconceived notions that limit or interfere with your enjoyment of music. I highly recommend you take the plunge, and immerse yourself in this strikingly eclectic, incomparably unique LP.
Spurge is available on Bandcamp.