Happy Families

Spoils - Nothing for a Man CS

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In the mid-90's when the giant wave of post-Nirvana A&R signings crested and broke, Cincinnati, OH experienced a blink-and-you-miss it moment in the sun birthing a sultry, greasy and noise-addled contribution to the Indie Rock lexicon with bands like Afghan Whigs, Ass Ponys, Wussy and compatriots Brainiac. But to say that Cincinnati posseses a "sound" that has any kind of through line is a bit more difficult to place. Instead, the city like the music it produces, is a bit of a liminal zone - straddling the South and the Midwest, concentration of the world's most successful multi-national companies and a startling high poverty index. The music that makes it out feels unplaceable - how did a city of under a million birth Why?, The National, Adrian Belew and John Bender?

While so many of the acts named feel like they are in the act of becoming, Spoils, a band formed in 2022 right on the cusp of another wave of creativity in Cincinnati, feels completely the opposite. Their songs sound as if they were plucked from the slipstream as fully formed, fully realized and hooked into a lineage much bigger than themselves. Songs by Spoils, once played, immediately dig deep caverns into your brain - practically metabolic. On their latest EP - Nothing For a Man - on the Cincy based Happy Families label expands on the tunefulness of their debut 2022 EP Find Later - while expanding their musical vocabulary. Violins appear on the intro and "Riverbed (Redux)" and Rhodes piano grace "David", giving these songs a bit more space to breathe while catalyzed by perfect hooks that songwriter, guitarist and violinst Nina Payiatis's is so well suited for. The tunefulness of .that dog, the irresistable hooks of bands like Unrest and the scrappy economy of The Spinanes are good entry points while contemporary indie bands like Spirit of the Beehive and Horse Jumper of Love seem to be fellow travelers.

Within the span of a year Spoils has managed to retain the accelerants that made Find Later such a treasured find allowing the simmering verses to feel out their depth a bit more. About the creation of the EP Nina Payiatis states, "The EP itself was written in the past year or so when the atmosphere felt more fertile from pandemic tensions being released. It's made of threads that tie back to growing and living here– family, friends, fables, emerging into adulthood as the world opens back up."

Strucurally the songs on Nothing For a Man provide mediations on universal rites of passage through distinct and personal experiences, Payiatis states, "“David” is about a man I met after our first show at The Comet after passing by each other in the neighborhood multiple days in a row. I never saw him again. “Come Closer” is about acquaintances made post-pandemic, when we were going to see new bands play every weekend. “Figure It Out” is about wanting to learn from mistakes, also sort of influenced by Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenedes. We re-recorded “Riverbed” because the song was originally written from a very mellow place, and we wanted to honor the melancholia."

While Cincinnati may not have a unifying sound, Nina Payiati is quick to point out that this EP is tied to the land they live in and the city's vibrant musical community they are tied to, "Mostly, our music is an answer to living in the Midwest. We love it here. The landscape of Ohio feels very lush, vast, closely integrated with nature and sky. The culture is pleasant, it feels rooted in history and community, our music is a part of that quilt." To sum it up with a sly IYKYK response, "It's Ohio style".

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