Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Badwater” by Speck Mountain from the 2013 album Badwater on Carrot Top Records.
Formed in 2005 by vocalist Marie-Claire Balabanian and guitarist Karl Briedrick, Chicago’s Speck Mountain falls somewhere between the texture-based, psychedelic sounds of’60s and the ethereal, alluring haze of ’00s space rock. Containing echoes of Beach House’s hazy melodies and Tame Impala’s indie rock take on Sgt. Pepper’s, the duo’s songs are a game of back and forth, with Balabanian’s airy vocals and soft bass reflecting Briedrick’s spacious, soaring leads to create a ebullient swirl. Now backed by drummer Chris Dye and keyboardist Linda Malonis, the group’s third album, Badwater, stands as their most cohesive and accomplished achievement to date. The album’s title track is a soulful slow burn, driven by a warm, droning organ and insistent martial beat. Balabanian’s vocal performance carries the song in the verses, but when she moves off the mic, Briedrick’s Blake Sennett-meets-Kevin Parker guitar solo steals the show. Akin to The Mynabirds’ criminally underrated Generals, “Badwater” isn’t so much of a pastiche of their influences as much as it is a re-appropriation; it’s a psych-rock tune with pop smarts, a space rock tune with clear structure, a gorgeous tune that unfolds deeper and deeper without wearing out its welcome.
Speck Mountain just wrapped up an East Coast tour in support of Badwater, and they’re looking to make a West Coast trek in early spring, so if they make the trek out to the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find that information on their website and Facebook. Watch the Kayla Anderson-directed video for the Badwater track “Slow So Long” below.