Album Review: Spotlights, Seismic

Comprised of Mario and Sarah Quintero, a Brooklyn-based, married team of artists, Spotlights is a band with few members but also a hugely versatile set of musical skills. The band has been rapidly and deservedly gaining momentum in recent years, being hand-picked by Deftones to open for three weeks of their summer 2016 tour with Refused and playing a run of Melvins dates this summer. Despite this busy touring regiment, the band still found time to write and record a powerful follow-up to their debut, full-length album Tidals.

Spotlights are set to release Seismic with Ipecac Recordings October 6, 2017. The two wrote and performed virtually everything on the album, with the production assistance of Aaron Harris (Isis / Palms). Akin to a Salvador Dali painting, the album sonically delivers a surreal and dream-like experience. Songs on Seismic take their time, giving listeners plenty of room to meditate in a specific mood or feeling. Despite this, they avoid many of the common pitfalls associated with some shoegaze or sludge artists in that the album never feels like it drags. Sometimes doomy, sometimes romantic, it’s as heavy as it is beautiful.

The album’s title track and opener, “Seismic,” masterfully sets the tone for what listeners can expect throughout their listening experience. The song starts with roughly ninety seconds of increasing warmth, fading in atmospheric tones and a simplistic, bell-driven melody. Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of comfort. The song unexpectedly explodes with some intense blast beats and seriously heavy rhythm guitar riffs. While this may at first seem like a shocking or unnerving experience, try to pay attention to how pretty it actually sounds. There’s a lot of innocence and beauty to be found in this record underneath its often-monstrous exterior.

Tracks like “Ghost Of A Glowing Forest” further illustrate this point. Much of the song features an uplifting melody with cheerful chord structures. Still, the band isn’t going to let you pass through the track without attacking you with moments of enormous, dissonant guitar and synth chords driven by forceful and heavy drumbeats. This consistent use of tension and release helps the album’s brightest moments seem brighter and its darkest moments seem darker.

Fans of something a little gloomier can find what they’re looking for in tracks like “Hollow Bones.” One of the album’s standout tracks, the song spends its first minute and a half carving your heart out with a bass line that is simple, yet brilliantly tragic. Sludge diehards won’t be disappointed as tracks like “Under The Earth” and “A Southern Death” demonstrate not only the band’s instrumental intensity but also Mario Quintero’s powerful singing and screaming range.

The band will be touring this December (dates below), supporting Hundredth, along with Tennis System and Gleemer. (Words by Andrew Humphrey

Upcoming Tour Dates

November 30 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery

December 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Night Bazaar

December 2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle

December 3 – Somerville, MA @ Once Ballroom

December 5 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Fun House

December 6 – Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s

December 7 – Lansing, MI @ The Loft

December 8 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen

December 10 – Denver, CO @ Marquis

December 12 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill

December 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ Echo

December 15 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

December 16 – Mesa, AZ @ Nile

December 18 – Austin, TX @ Sidewinder

December 19 – Dallas, TX @ Dirty 30

December 20 – Houston, TX @ Walter’s

December 22 – Birmingham, AL @ Syndicate Lounge

December 23 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade