Morning Spy
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Morning Spy


Band Alternative Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Smother Review of The Silver Age"

San Francisco indie pop outfit Morning Spy landed on the Keep Recordings roster in ’04 with their brilliant and stirring “Two Horses” EP and now team up with that label and Abandoned Love Records to release this full-length. Sugar-coated in malaise and abandonment issues on tape, “The Silver Age” bounces from the lo-fi indie folk that is gaining more popularity in the underground to the obscure art rock that lays out gorgeous pathways to excellence encouraging other acts to follow. And it’s those efforts to not stay within the lines that color this album with such vibrancy. The instrumentation is subtle and doesn’t attempt to outclass the best students at Berklee College of Music, which lends it a tenderness that’s both straightforward and oddly angular. It’s as if they bottled up the San Francisco Bay area’s fog and put it to tape for us all to enjoy. -

"San Francisco Bay Guardian write-up"

It's rare that a band sound confident enough in their nascency for audiences to enjoy the initial growth period as much as the musicians involved. With a well-received, self-released full-length album and an EP on Keep Recordings – Subsequent Light and Two Horses, respectively – under their belts since their inception in 2001, Morning Spy recline into this category with ease. Starting with an already-cultivated dream pop, mid-fi composite, the San Francisco quartet have built on their strengths with a trajectory somewhere between Destroyer and Grandaddy. Their new LP, The Silver Age (Keep and Abandoned Love), shows a quickly developing maturity in songwriting and production, with greater interaction between music and lyrics, and a mix that displays a well-toned sonic physique. - San Francisco Bay Guardian

" review"

The relatively isolated feeling you get from Jon Rooney's simple opening guitar and voice sets a mood that gradually shifts as layer upon layer of instrumentation finds its way in, and energy levels increase. Less than four minutes later, the melancholy singer songwriter in a cafe has become a confident eye in a theater full of swirling piles of guitar.

After the eventful opener that is "Princess Vancouver" [available in MP3 on Morning Spy's site ], The Silver Age settles into a more recognizable form with the strummed and jangle-y pop that makes up most of the rest of the album. The early shift on "Foggy Filter" to Allison Goffman's lead vocals accentuates the variety of colors Morning Spy is capable of painting with, yet the tonality of things still keeps it all in the very much Morning Spy camp.

The album closes with what ends up being my favorite track - "The Slow March to Salt-White Sleep". It's a languorous and eerie piece that floats on sustained organ chords with minimal, but because of that, effecting vocals and guitar. It's not going to be the hit single, but it's a gem and illustrative again of their range.

The Silver Age falls relatively neatly into the realm of dream pop, with comparisons easily made to Luna (Rooney does sound a bit like Dean Wareham), Yo La Tengo, and earlier bands of the 80's paisley underground. But they have a slightly rawer sound than most of those that came before, and they take it in bigger directions, occasionally bringing the level up to massive swirling heights that are a little unexpected from such subdued beginnings. - Slightly Confusing to a Stranger

"Copper Press review"

It’s true you might find some commonalities between this outfit and the Velvet Underground, but Morning Spy (don’t worry) isn’t the second coming of the Velvets. Instead it’s a fascinating band of its own that makes music you can listen to while staring at your shoes or racing down to the bottom of a bottle of wine. Jon Rooney gives some fascinating vocal performances, particularly on the strangely hooky “Sugar Witch,” while Allison Goffman adds an unexpected charm with “Honeysuckle Baby” and “Foggy Filter.” The closing instrumental “The Slow March To Salt-White Sleep” is, like the rest of this, dreamy. - Copper Press

"Eleven Elephants Review"

While the winter storm this weekend didn’t amount to as much as the weather-folks predicted, I’m still pretending that I’m snowed-in my apartment. I’m drinking the obligatory cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows, not showering until the afternoon, and I have a stack of movies lined-up for the evening. It’s a lazy Sunday morning, indeed, and as I’m looking forward to a day of nothing, Morning Spy is providing a fitting soundtrack. The Silver Age is full of warm and fuzzy melodies, much like a heated apartment and a soft blanket on a cold winter’s day.

Their brand of dreamy, jangly indie-rock reveals a variety of influences, but most often, Morning Spy reminds me of Luna with more pep or Yo La Tengo with less noise. Singer/songwriter, Jon Rooney, handles most of the vocal duties with his strangely charming nasal baritone. Guitarist/Keyboardist, Allison Goffman, however, turns in some stellar performances of her own. The Goffman-led “Foggy Filter” is full of bouncy indie-pop goodness and hand-claps reminiscent of Velocity Girl. Conversely, the leisurely-paced “Ask Us To Dance” is begging to be played at a high-school prom. This album isn’t without surprises, either. “Voices And Vigils” contains some dub-style breakdowns and a hyper Pixies-esque lead toward the end. The Silver Age also ends on a strong-note with the somber “Overnite” and the aptly-titled instrumental: “The Slow March To Salt-White Sleep.”

With their second full-length, Morning Spy have managed to find the perfect balance between melancholy and upbeat, without leaning too far in either direction. I strongly urge fans of good, solid indie-rock (as cliché as that may sound) to spend some quality time with The Silver Age. This reviewer is certainly looking forward to hearing more from this band in the future. - Eleven Elephants

"Pop Matters Review"

The problem to be solved before delving into the particulars of the wonderfully semi-lo-fi indie guitar world of Morning Spy's The Silver Age is that we need a working definition of derivative. See, right there, I saw you flinch! That's the problem. We've got hardened associations that are as loaded as shotguns during duck season when it comes to music (or literature or art), and one of them is that aforementioned word which will now not be said. A dictionary definition of the aforementioned word says, at its essence, "copied or adapted from others". That seems pretty innocuous in and of itself, but there's something about the creative process, especially that which will be given up for public consumption, that spurs us, the digesters of that which is given up, to insist on pure originality. Whatever that means. Let's face it, at least half of the motivating desire for originality comes from the critical world. It is the critics amongst us (yours truly included) who demand that everything we hear be either brazenly new, that it cow-tow to the influences that we see as deserving, or be a logical next step in the sound that a "scene" has been incubating. Just about everything else seems to fall under the category of junk. There just doesn't seem to be a well-established middle ground between the accusation of "Creedism" or "Coldplayeity" and the celebration of what's deemed to be hyper-original -- especially in indie-rock circles. My working theory is that a record like The Silver Age goes a long way towards finding that middle ground by simply co-opting some of the sounds that are already successfully floating around in there. And that's a good thing.

Morning Spy is a San Francisco based pop band that has released two albums and two EPs since 2003. Their first proper album -- 2004's Subsequent Light -- was a mélange of dreamy pop music. On The Silver Age, Morning Spy has taken the swirling guitar charm of their last record and updated it with the kind of hook and melody that echoes bands such as Luna and The Silver Jews so well that at times it's hard to tell the difference. But saying that Morning Spy is derivative (crap, I said it) of those bands does them a supreme disservice. Morning Spy is making beautifully intelligent pop music: just because they may be following a muse that was at the very least flat-mates (and more likely secret lovers) with the one that inspired Dean Wareham and David Berman shouldn't be a cause for shame. Luna is dead and gone. The Silver Jews have a record coming out this summer, but after that the expected date of Social Security's bankruptcy may be a good target for the next one. So in the interim why not simply enjoy the sound of a band that makes a really good noise and not question their intentions? Derivative doesn't have to be bad, it can simply mean picking up the metaphoric baton that some other band has dropped and sprinting in the same direction.

The Silver Age opens with "Princess Vancouver", a song that begins by sounding like an outtake from The Silver Jews American Water and then builds towards an outtake from Luna's Bewitched. Singer Jon Rooney's voice has a similar nasal sing-speak intonation to the Jews' David Berman, though lyrically he's not as literary. "Two Horses" sounds like Luna fronted by Berman, with such uncanny ease that Morning Spy may have to answer accusations of identity theft. The gentle strum that starts "In the Silver Age" takes the same tone and pace as "Anesthesia", but with a noisier, less collected guitar that adds a ragged punch you would never find on Lunapark. The harmonizing of Jon Rooney and Allison Goffman on "Ask Us to Dance" rests on a lazily strummed bed of guitar and sounds like the best moments of Wareham and Britta Phillips. I think I may be belaboring a point by bending over backwards too far to draw these comparisons, but there's something truly uncanny about Morning Spy's sound. To me the comparisons I'm citing are so obvious it's like getting hit over the head with a frying pan. You can't not notice them, especially if you're a fan of this particular sound. The only misstep here is the nearly six-minute long nap-inducing "The Slow March to Salt-White Sleep", which sounds exactly like its title would imply.

The Silver Age is an excellent record. The songs are well written and the band is clearly staking its claim to a specific sound. Underrepresented due to atrophy, it may still be someone else's at this stage of the game but that shouldn't be a negative. The Silver Age isn't a result of pillage as much as heavy borrowing. There are far, far worse starting points to call your own than the catalogs that Morning Spy has absorbed. - Pop Matters

"The Owl Mag Review"

At some point in a young, self-pitying person’s life, they must turn off the “Amelie” soundtrack and pop in an album like Morning Spy’s Silver Age, which sports smashingly written tracks and DAMN fine lyrics. In fact, the lyrics are so good; I painstakingly copied them off of the CD jacket, where they were emblazoned proudly (and rightly so) in blurry Courier type.

“Princess Vancouver” is my favorite track, and invokes every last one of the flattering expletives in my vocabulary. Musically, it is near perfect, but the lyrics for “In the Silver Age” really blow my mind, like that hot, aloof boy from your AP Lit class who was way too cool for the likes of the student body and opted to spend his lunch break in the restroom, incessantly scribbling away in his journal...But I digress- that boy grew up, and now he pens lines like “It was hard, you were spent; you couldn’t make rent, your twenties were filled with orphaned events…”(In the Silver Age)

Morning Spy’s sound is the latest, best, and probably last wildly popular gasp of Modest Mouse inspired music you’ll hear for awhile, liberally peppered with Lou Reed inflections. When Allison Guffman chimes in on pop tracks like “Overnite,” it’s like Rainer Maria come back to life. Morning Spy’s been playing shows with locally celebrated folk rock heroes like Vervein and Kelley Stoltz, a sound indicator that the musicological powers-that-be are taking notice, as should you.. - The Owl Mag

"West Coast Performer Review"

Meet the little San Francisco indie-pop band that could. Remember the scene in the Michel Gondry directed flick Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in which Kirsten Dunst is dancing in her underwear on top of a bed with that guy? That song playing in the background should have been Morning Spy's “Please Stay Out Late” because it has that infectious bass line pertinent to a good pop song without coming off as too cheesy. If the band's previous three EP's left you longing for more, then you'll definitely want to check out the ridiculously enjoyable 11-song Subsequent Light. When thinking of Morning Spy's sound, bands such as Rilo Kiley with awkward vocals and Grandaddy with prolonged psychedelic guitar riffs come to mind. Greet them with handclaps and tap your glass at them. There's an element in Morning Spy's sound that epitomizes the laid-back California sound. Take a listen to the opener “I Am The Time” and “Accidental Stars” which were probably written to lie around all day swallowing in the California stars and making love. Call it chill rock or another term coined by a pretentious rock critic. They will have you sleeping the day away just like they say in “Sweet Taste of Joy.” Subsequent Light's stand-out song is easily “Daughter's of History,” in which Jon Rooney's (vocals, guitar) voice does not sound wonky and annoying. The recording flows with a pleasing mid-tempo beat courtesy of Mark Loftin (drums) and it has just enough subtle background vocals from Goffman. The sweet “Hey Kirsten” even has the obligatory “sha-la-la-la”'s thrown in mid-song. Subsequent Light is that album that has songs that make one want to think, sing, and dance in the dark. Morning Spy must be doing something right if National Public Radio's “All Things Considered” program featured “Slow Flood” on a recent program. Now if they could get their act together because they have so much potential. . - West Coast Performer

"Devil in the Woods Review"

The three-song demo from Oakland, CA’s Morning Spy is full of dreamy pop for rainy days. Two of the tracks are sung by guitarist Allison Goffman, but the winning number is “Slow Flood,” which features bassist Jon Rooney singing in a Dean Wareham/Stephin Merritt sort of way. His deep vocals over the jangly pop are charming, and the guitar breaks, bass lines and Goffman’s backing vocals are perfect. - Devil in the Woods


The Silver Age (2005) - KEEP Recordings / Abandoned Love Records
Two Horses EP (2004) - KEEP Recordings
Subsequent Light (2004) - Self-Released


Feeling a bit camera shy


Jon Rooney and Mark Loftin formed Morning Spy as a recording project over the summer of 2001, adding Allison Goffman soon thereafter and guitarist James Spadaro in the summer of 2003. Morning Spy's debut LP, Subsequent Light, was released in January 2004 to modest obscurist acclaim, receiving positive reviews and eventually earning a spot on a handful of "best of 2004" lists. The now sold out, limited edition Two Horses EP was released by KEEP Recordings in June 2004 to even better reviews. The Silver Age was recorded at Tiny Telephone by Aaron Prellwitz and Closer Studios by Glynn Durham in San Francisco and mixed by Prellwitz at Tiny Telephone. Myles Boisen mastered the disc, which the band considers their high water mark.

The Silver Age has been well-reviewed by numerous blogs and online zines such as Pop Matters, Delusions of Adequacy, Splendid and Punk Planet. It has received airplay on college radio stations such as KSCU (Santa Clara, CA), KSZU (Stanford, CA) and KUNM (New Mexico) and online stations such as Bagel Radio, Radio XY and Jellyfish Radio. Morning Spy has been featured in print publications Copper Press and West Coast Performer. After the release of The Silver Age, Morning Spy toured outside of California for the first time, playing much of the West in late Spring 2005 and has shared the stage with artists like Silversun Pickups, Bound Stems, Scissors for Lefty, and Tony Moreno (Norfolk & Western). The Silver Age is distributed nationally by Revolver USA.