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  So Happy It's Sad  
  Spirits and the Melchizedek Children  
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Back in 2011 a local band that i had never heard of opened for Jupiter Watts when they released Take Time. I thought that this new band was called Spirits, or maybe the lead vocalist was called Spirits. I guess i thought that because the rest of the name of this band is unpronounceable. Seriously -- Melchizidek? You have to freaking practice saying the name out loud for a while before you can even discuss the band.

And what does that word even mean? I looked it up online, and apparently it is an ancient Hebrew thing, referring to some priest or another... I don't subscribe to that mythology, so the article didn't make that much sense to me. It might to you, depending on personal theological choices. Whatever.

So, i get that this is some deep spiritual term, but it is still awfully hard to pronounce. Wikipedia lists a pronouncation that i think means "mel kiz i deck" since pronunciation symbols are themselves kind of confusing. That is what i am going with anyway...

Now, this is an interesting discussion, but it begs the question of why a band would chose such a difficult to pronounce name for their band? I don't have any answer to that, so let's just move on.

So Happy, It's Sad is the second full-length from SATMC (the official acronym for the band, apparently), and their first release since 2011. I am not familiar with that album, so i cannot talk about how the band has grown.

However, the time i saw them was around when that album came out, and what i hear on this record is what i remember hearing then. That is, this is a vaguely psychedelic band fronted by a vocalist who has a lovely, soulful voice. They are like the midpoint between Talk Talk, Pink Floyd, and Spiritualized, which is a pretty awesome combination.

The band is apparently a five-piece act, but they have plenty of help in making this record. Let's look at the songs here, eight of them in about 45 minutes.

Lullabies for War starts the record off slowly, a song materializing over the course of a minute or so, gelling from a faint drone. Guitars tinkle, scattered drumming keeps a slow beat, and a western tremoloed guitar wanders in. Vocalist Jason Robert Elliot leads the charge as the song barrels along, building to a real frenzy over the course of close to nine minutes with him really singing away while the band grooves along.

On Song Bird's Grave the guitars chime and Ryan Gregory's violin is more noticeable than on many of the songs. I really like the beat that drummer Brian Fielden and bassist Joe McNeil create here. It swings, and really gets my gets my head bopping. It is as perfect of a pop song as i have heard in a long time.

Land Tied starts achingly slow, guitarist Andrew Burnes playing echoed and western sounding while Chris Case adds faint piano hits accentuating Elliot's voice. This sounds like what Myssouri did so well all those years ago, only slower. This is a western psychedelic tune, perfect for peyote in the desert, i guess.

After that, SATMC give us a short interlude, Throw Me To My Knees at just under two minutes. It is a tune of plucked and strummed acoustic guitars, voice, and the rest of the band aahing in the background. It has a faint dreamy feel, like the song is barely there... But it fades directly into Lost and Found, the first few minutes of which simply sound like the next movement of the previous song. Well, that is if you are listening digitally. On vinyl you have to flip the record over between those two songs, so the sonic similarity provides a bit of continuity to the two sides of the record.

Anyway, Lost and Found cruises along lightly for a minute, then the rest of the band joins in and it becomes a melancholy tune with layers of picked guitar and sawing strings that and eventually gets fuzzy and overdriven as the songs grows in intensity, climaxing with Elliot bellowing "Ha!" as the drum hits and the guitars and stings wail. The song becomes a fever dream...

The title track is next, and it is a really pretty song. The guitar chugs and he sings achingly for a minute, then the band swings in, a lovely melody soaring by as the song saunters along.

The guitars are great on Copper Feather, where one chimes and the other struggles under ebow. Voices "ooh" and keys swell as the song grooves along wordlessly, a dreamy instrumental.

And finally we wrap it up with Past, Present, Future, where the guitars chug slowly, one really grinding and one chiming as Elliot sings. About halfway through its almost nine minute length, the whole band joins in, and it speeds up, drummer Bryan Fielden really playing nicely, driving the wandering guitars, keys, and voice along in his wake. And then it gets all noisy, just overdriven and messy and chaotic, the band members all hammering away. It is a noisy end to such a mellow record.

So, i first encountered this band three years ago, when they opened for Jupiter Watts at the point they released one of my favorite local records ever, Take Time. So it is interesting to note that SATMC have released my favorite local record since then. Huh. A coincidence, or divine providence? You be the judge...

But go get this. Seriously. Just do it.

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