It’s a well-known fact that the pandemic has hit musicians hard. When the live music stopped, they were instantly stripped of their livelihoods and faced serious financial hardship. The enforced isolation, which was difficult for all of us, had an even heavier impact on those whose lives consisted of constant travel and bonding with audiences everywhere.
Many musicians have turned to their music to deal with all this uncertainty. The latest album to come out of these trying times is “Feel Good Everywhere” by indie rock band Spouse.
Spouse, which was formed by singer, songwriter and guitarist Jose Ayerve in the mid-1990s, has a long history in the local music scene. Over the years, the band went through various line-up changes and released numerous recordings, conquered college radio and even had their music used on some TV shows.
Although considered a local band, Ayerve actually left Pioneer Valley in the ’90s, living first in Portland, Maine and later settling in Ecuador, while most of the formation remained here in the valley. This geographic gap, combined with the band taking a seven-year hiatus from 2010 to 2017, impacted the frequency of the band’s live performances.
In February 2020, the current lineup – Ayerve, JJ O’Connell on drums, Peyton Pinkerton on guitar and Marc Seedorf on bass and guitar – played a handful of shows in the Northampton area. Then it was back to Ecuador for Ayerve which, like most countries in the world, found itself locked down by the time March 2020 arrived.
“It was a very scary and uncertain time for so many people,” Ayerve said in his press release for the album. “Somehow the shared experience brought us together and inspired us to collaborate virtually.”
In April, when the group started working on this project, it was not the first time that the members collaborated virtually since they had made “Emergency”, an album which they released last year with a lineup. slightly different, in the same way.
“I would follow an idea and send it to them, they would follow their games. The songs evolved a bit, changed, became stronger and different,” he said. “We worked on some demos from a session we did at JJ’s in October 2015 and added a bunch of extra tracks until the record started to take shape,” Ayerve said. Seedorf and O’Connell did the mixing, and Mark Alan Miller of Sonelab recording studio in Easthampton mastered the project.
“Feel Good Everywhere” was released on January 7 and is available on Bandcamp.com.
Spouse is known for creating indie rock music steeped in memorable melodies, and songs like “15 Seconds” pretty much fit that description. Just like the poppy “La buena suerte”, one of the two songs here sung in Spanish, which is what we expect from a Spouse album.
When Ayerve launches into lines like “We got our reputation/But no money, no respect/We feel a little different/We feel a little sick/We can’t afford our records/We can’t pay our rent/ And how are we gonna take this show on the road?” to the tune “Show on the Road”, he captures the anxiety felt by all the musicians who have had to cancel countless gigs over the last two years. It is this feeling of not knowing and being afraid of what is happening around the corner that appears throughout this record.
“Feel Good Everywhere” finds Ayerve channeling the turmoil and anger of our times into her songs, resulting in sublime music. This album is a bit darker and rocks a lot harder than previous releases, but it’s still quite enjoyable. Judging by the propelling drums, searing guitars and scratchy vocals of Ayerve, “Feel Good Everywhere” was as cathartic to do as it was to listen to.
A song like “Denied” begins with a simple strumming guitar and Ayerve singing in a hushed voice, “Will you pull me into your arms?/So I can feel your warmth/And only be charmed?” Once the chorus kicks in, so do the fierce guitars and crashing cymbals. The band uses the loud/quiet/loud dynamic to great effect here, and at the end a chorus of voices sings “Denied, denied, denied” as the band delivers a full sonic assault that begs the listener to turn up the volume.
Even a gloomy song like “Hold Each Other” with a dreamy psychedelic sound uses a muddy guitar that makes the sound beautiful and heavy at the same time. And the grungy vibe of “Camera” lends weight to the music, but the song ends with Ayerve repeating the phrase “I feel good everywhere.”
And that’s what he wants the album to be – to be satisfied, to be grateful and to feel good wherever you are.
“The songs on this record are definitely about celebrating life, but part of living is feeling and going through some pretty scary, dark, and unnerving things,” he said. “Some of them are captured here.”
Spouse is currently planning a spring tour and it should include some local stops, so stay tuned.
If you want to listen to music and a cold beer, head to the Four Star Farms Brewery in Northfield, located at 508 Pine Meadow Road. The brewery offers music every weekend and on Friday nights you can enjoy the acoustic sounds of Moon Hollow, a trio from southern Vermont who play original music and a mix of bluegrass, Americana, country alternative, folk and early jazz.
The band will play from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
To keep everyone safe, the Four Star Farms brewery requires masks to be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking. The company has recently implemented additional safety measures, including the provision of masks at all entrances and exits, more hand sanitizing areas available and the use of single-use compostable cups. The brewery has also added three new high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifiers in addition to its own ventilation system, and staff remain committed to frequently sanitizing seating and high-traffic areas.
Jeffrey Foucault was scheduled to perform at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday January 28, but the show was postponed to Saturday March 5 and moved to the Parlor Room in Northampton. The show is now part of the eighth annual Back Porch Festival, presented by Signature Sounds Presents.
All tickets purchased for the Greenfield show will be honoured. Tickets for this new date and all Back Porch Festival shows are on sale now at signaturesoundspresents.com.
I should mention that Green River Festival tickets – including weekend passes, day passes, parking passes and camping – are now on sale at greenriverfestival.com . The program will be announced soon.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer originally from Greenfield and currently residing in Easthampton. She can be contacted at [email protected]