Philadelphia indie rock four-piece Spelling Reform is a band that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve — but with influences this good, can we really complain?
As you listen to the band’s Key Studio Session, it’s impossible not to hear a little bit of 80s R.E.M. in the way singer-songwriter and guitarist Dan Wisniewski shares harmonies and trades counterpoint lines with bassist Tom Howley on the buoyant opener “The Second Coming.” Or the way the expansive closer “Merriweather Lewis on the Divide” begins on fervent Feelies-esque strumming, and then launches into a Weakerthans thump care of drummer Mark Rybaltowski. The chords and textures from new keyboardist Jim Gannon add a Pernice Brothers feel to the proceedings, and there are more than trace levels of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle in Wisniewski’s upper-register delivery (giving way to their self-depricating self-description, “nasal indie rock”).
Okay, then, we get it — Spelling Reform sounds like a lot of acclaimed, bookish-cool indie rock bands from the past 20 years. But they bring their own perspective to the table care of Wisniewski’s clever turns of phrase and cogent lyrical vignettes. Continue reading →