SPOUSE
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SPOUSE

Portland, Maine, United States | INDIE

Portland, Maine, United States | INDIE
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"Confidence"

PIGEON/NINE MILE
By Mat Herron

From his Northampton, Mass., outpost, José Ayerve, singer, guitarist and ringleader of Spouse, is building a house, and the mortar is durable pop. Confidence finds Ayerve backed by an arsenal of friends and frequent collaborators (New Radiant Storm King drummer J.J. O’Connell among them) and picking up where Relocation Tactics left off. Ayerve’s scratchy vocals recall better-than-late-era Paul Westerberg, and they’re strengthened by gut-level ruminations on the bright side of perseverance and originality (“No Sudden Moves”). He’s smart to vary his pop indulgences (the keys on “What You’re Feeling”) with wry humorous jabs (“Keep Being You”). The interest continues to build after “59.” Sung in Spanish, it unfolds as light as a Mediterranean breeze, while “Underwater” and the elegiac “9.19.05” are poignancy put to sound. - LEO Weekly


"Spouse"

“No one epitomizes the gap between pop and popular better than Spouse’s Jose Ayervé, whose smart, achingly melodic songs would, in an alternative universe, share playlists with Big Star, Teenage Fanclub and the Go-Betweens. A fixture in Western Mass. and Portland, Maine, Ayerve’s Spouse has, for too long, languished in obscurity while less accomplished but better bankrolled pop acts (ahem, Vampire Weekend) vault to stardom. His latest, Confidence, makes the jump from jewel-like self-release to small indie label Nine Mile Records, and includes both buoyant hookery (“No Sudden Moves”) and a wrenching description of family tragedy (“09.19.05”). It’s a strong bid for wider recognition, but if you want to buy it in Philly, better hit the show. J.K., Philadelphia Weekly – 07/29/10 - Philadelphia Weekly


"Spouse - Confidence"

This fifth album for Massachusettes-based Spouse arrives more than a decade into the career of main songwriter-vocalist José Ayerve, a workhorse pursuit filled with behind-the-boards work for other New England based bands and gigs as a hired gun, all the while stubbornly pursuing and perfecting his own music.

Usually at such a late point in their career, any pop musician still clinging to their own vision for the perfect song is either hilariously deluded or just really good; either way, you have to find some rationale for continuing to court mass acceptance in the face of general apathy. And though egotistical delusion is often a wellspring for the beautiful deformities that fill your WTF? file of interesting music, sometimes a person just has a gift for writing tunes too good to be kept quiet, and so they insist on writing and recording them again and again. Confidence is that kind of disc: no wild surprises, just start-to-finish expert hooks with the conviction of a survivor and the control of a veteran.

Control is evident in the non-stop quality of the material. Ten songs, no filler, just insidiously catchy refrains sung by Ayerve in a beautifully expressive voice. He has a similar warmth to his voice as that of his sometimes-employer Joe Pernice (of the excellent Pernice Brothers) but with a very welcome grit and far more elasticity. Ayerve’s performance is a big part of why this disc is more than just a set of killer pop tunes. He sings the chorus of “Vampire Love Song” with an irresistible allure that compounds the delicious chord change and the Catherine Wheel-type of dreamy guitarscape.

There’s a real resonance to the emotions on Confidence that befit the adult behind its conception. There’s also a loveliness to the melodies and a thwack to the rhythms that befit the musician (or just the person) who doesn’t want to spend their adulthood mulling over any one emotion, whether it’s the gravity that life demands or the beauty that hope demands or the assertiveness that ambition demands. For example, opener “No Sudden Moves” is as effervescent in its rolling drive as you could want, yet it has a keening melancholy that satisfies the pensive indie-pop fan. It gives a voice to that nagging need for non-cheap hummability while still recognizing that – even for pop nerds – the ass wants what it wants, namely hypercharged drumming that propels you to some sort of physical movement.

“Grand Motif” does a similar thing, and with big impact. Again, Averve’s singing is beautiful, worthy of those inexpressible feelings that commercial culture tries so cravenly to capture, or that cheaper music addresses in lyrical or musical shorthand. The gravity of feeling evident throughout Confidence becomes especially acute on “09.19.95,” a harrowing tale that begins painfully enough with a lost guitar (a charango, actually) and ends with the murder of Averve’s father during a robbery. This is heavy stuff but it’s dealt with well, in a brooding but propulsive series of verses, kind of a folk-song structure that follows the unfolding tragedy without trying to make too much sense of it beyond the glimpse it gives to what may lie beyond Ayerve’s drive.

If there is such a thing as a 90s indie vibe, then I guess Spouse has it; but Confidence just sounds to me like some super smart pop chops expressed through all those post-punk guitar techniques that are so deeply woven into rock by now: the alternate chord voicings, the awareness of tone, the slightly artsy sense of construction that tries to avoid obviousness, etc.

And not for nothing, but to look at this disc, you’d be ready to toss it in the cut-out bin in a second. Boring, throwaway mid-Nineties monosyllabic band name, equally blah cover; this disc has a look that radiates disposability. Do not dispose! Confidence is a grand example of modern pop songcraft and, like many an under-appreciated spouse out there, this Spouse deserves far more attention than they’ve been getting over the years.

http://www.ninemilerecords.com/

File Under: ear candy, indie-pop, older+wiser, underappreciated - Adequacy.net


"See The Light - Spouse • 04.25.07"

Spouse | 04.25.07
Written by Amanda Pelle
Monday, 30 April 2007
Cautious at first of the native frostbite, they penetrated the modest Minneapolis venue with an almost aggravated introduction to their album.

7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
Minneapolis has a reputation for frigidity that effectively daunts humanity well into the late spring months. Even when the austere bite of winter has retired from a season of freezing fingers, the Twin Cities have a way of provoking cautious admission.
Spouse, on tour promoting the release of their fourth album, Relocation Tactics, infiltrated the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis in such a manner on their April 25 show. Cautious at first of the native frostbite, they penetrated the modest Minneapolis venue with an almost aggravated introduction to their album. Spouse took the stage with a high amount of energy and volume-a bit overpowering at first, as though challenging the severity of the city with the severity of their own instrumental vigor.
However harsh the winters in Minnesota may be, these tundra-like months are precursors to lush and magnificent seasons to follow. In following with the tradition of Minnesota weather, Spouse warmed beautifully into the season of their music well before the finale of Tactics' title track. The initial severity of the song quickly melted into a delectable concoction of indie, alternative, and rock. By the time the group transitioned into the next song in the set, "Hangover Cure for Humanity," their energy was phenomenal, and it showed. The group shared a fervent jam session, then drew in the crowd with the genuine forthrightness of their lyrics: "Is this what you want me to say? Is this what you want?"
The intrigue of the music compounded in the tracks to follow as the group's cohesiveness became more apparent with every passing moment. "Hunting For Some Good News" revealed an impressive array of emotion as the sweet, soft, despondent song transitioned into a slightly uncomfortable, nagging overtone at its culmination. Spouse continued to show off their musical diversity through a collection of songs ranging from the whispery alternative and mournful "Long Live the Baystate," to the accosting alternative-rock "Thunder Royale," to melancholy indie-alternative, "Boys vs. Girls," to high-energy boosts of indie in "Tonight," and "Spouse Visits the World Bank." This effortless evolution of their music proves irrefutably that transitioning is truly Spouse's forte. Additionally, their intuitive lyrics project a gentle way of saying harsh things-an inconspicuous talent that sets apart the "good" from the "great."
The group, nine members in all, functions astonishingly well as a fragmentary entity. Nothing seemed amiss as four of the group's nine took the stage at the 7th Street Entry. José Ayerve, lead singer, introduced Kevin O'Rourke at the bass, Dan Pollard at the guitar, and JJ O'Connell at the drums. The New England group filled the brief silence between songs with jovial quips about Dick Cheney, Mac computers, and antifreeze problems with their van on the road. Their down-to-earth projection engaged the quaint crowd late on a Wednesday evening, in a season filled with thawing snow and lush, magnificent music.
Spouse's tour to promote Relocation Tactics is not a stationary effort. Their "Relocation Tactics" are smartly progressive and winsome. This group's uncanny ability to transition effortlessly is certain to bring great success to their continuing tour, as well as to the promotion of their fourth album. | Amanda Pelle - Playback STL


"Renewing Their Vows"

BACK AGAIN: Spouse.

Life obviously isn’t fair. The latest proof is that Jose Ayerve still hasn’t been properly celebrated as a major force in American indie songwriting, but a Charlie Sheen/Jon Cryer vehicle is now the most popular comedy on television.
This particular example of unfairness comes to mind with the news of Relocation Tactics, a new release from Spouse, the geographically scattered “band” Ayerve started fronting at Bowdoin College some 10 years ago. And Spouse always calls to mind the indie pop made by New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Psychedelic Furs to support Jon Cryer’s first career as an ironic teen icon. I predicted with some hope in the review of 2004’s Are You Gonna Kiss or Wave Goodbye that Two and a Half Men (a show I insist should at least be titled Two Men and a Half) would be cancelled before Spouse’s next album release.

I am woefully disappointed in CBS’s continually insipid play to the heartland, but couldn’t be happier with Spouse’s new effort. It delivers all of the winsome guitar hooks, biting love songs, and studio wizardry we’ve come to expect, but, as always, the multiple recording locations and band line-ups lend a new in-the-moment aesthetic to the band’s fourth full-length release. The disparate recording venues and circumstances, the multiple layers of tracks and instruments, make for a deep and textured album that has a lot to listen for. It’s maybe best as a singalong disc for the car stereo, but it’s not bad in the headphones either.

While the band’s indie-pop roots are still to the front, this album is harder than the previous three — 2002’s Love Can’t Save This Love and 2000’s Nozomi are the first two, both highly recommended — and a little bit rootsier, featuring a great ode to Springsteen in the finish to “Delta” and a lovely glockenspiel melody from Mike Merenda on “Boyfriend in Training.” Both, too, put Ayerve’s romantic heart on display. “Love only happens when you’re blinded,” he argues on the former; “You can I can make up now,” he breathes in the latter, “It’s what I’m trained to do.”

“Boyfriend” only clocks in at 1:58, and, while refreshing in an era of long-winded pop songs Spouse completely avoids, its brevity is a crime. Spouse employ eight instruments here to effect a song one might refer to as stripped down, full of solo guitar strumming in sleepy, seductive pacing. One of the band’s great talents is being incredibly precise with its production while remaining fresh and sort of jangledy.

Ayerve also has a talent for recruiting talent, and the talents of Erin McKeown are hard to miss as an important new element on Tactics. Her pure and resonating mezzo-soprano punctuates the bouncy pop of “It=Love,” which is like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, though maybe more mature. Especially in the coda, she’s sublime in her backing vocals of the taunting “never gonna get it back.” She’s even better with a co-lead turn later on the disc in the Sufjan-esque “There Goes the Road.”

Speaking of Clap Your Hands, they’ve worked with Adam Lasus, who helps out on three other songs here, and has a track record with Yo La Tengo, whom Spouse likely admire. Mark Miller (Jay Mascis, Dar Williams) does a large part of the mixing, which shows the proper respect to the warm and sometimes thrilling guitars. Those are largely handled by long-time Spousers Naomi Hamby, Dan Pollard, and Ken Maiuri (also notable for being in Pedro the Lion), who, along with Ayerve’s vocals, define the band’s sound.

I don’t have nearly enough space to recount all of the many other musicians here, along with their accomplishments, but suffice it to say that even the merest egg shaker is shown love and care.

The most notable track might be “Spouse Visits the World Bank,” if only because you’ve got to love a band both self-referential and humble. A great mix of way-to-the-front clean electric guitar and a sublimated deep bass opens the song like a Bond tune, with plenty of vamp and entreaties that “right is wrong.” The chorus is a big singalong I didn’t see coming, heavy like an alarm clock pulling you out of a sedentary lull. “Hey little bastard,” Ayerve cajoles, “We’ve got, we’ve got/A hell of a mission for you/To spread economic disaster/To trigger the apocalypse.”

Normally, Spouse’s goals aren’t quite so weighty, but maybe they’re ready for bigger things.

Relocation Tactics | Released by Spouse | at SPACE, in Portland | April 13 | with Cult Maze + Hiss & Chambers

On the Web
Spouse: www.spousemusic.com
SPACE: www.space538.org

Email the author
Sam Pfeifle: sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com - The Phoenix


"Relocation Tactics - CD Review"

Spouse - Relocation Tactics
Recorded by Jose Ayerve
Additional recording and mixing by Mark Alan Miller and Adam Lasus
Mastered by Rick Fisher

Spouse, a Northampton collective that has been churning out EPs and full-lengths since the late 1990s, is the primary outlet of songwriter Jose Ayerve, who also multi-tasks as co-head of Pigeon Records (along with fellow Spouse bandmate Dan Pollard), road manager and bass player for The Pernice Brothers, and producer/engineer on albums for bands like Winterpills and New Radiant Storm King.
Judging from the quality of the music on Relocation Tactics, Spouse is undoubtedly Ayerve's most cherished project at the moment. Self-labeled as an "experimental rock band," Spouse certainly meets this definition, but in a compositional sense rather than an instrumental one. This isn't an album full of strange instruments like flugelhorns and singing saws, but rather one of unique structural forms using a guitar/bass/drums foundation.
If Franz Ferdinand had been raised on Sebadoh and Pavement instead of Pulp and Suede, they might have sounded like Spouse. Cushioning a core of relentless melodies with soft layers of fuzz, the music on Relocation Tactics plays like a shuffle of early '90s indie rock, when shuffle meant hitting the "random" function on the 5-disc CD changer. Ayerve's smoky voice is everywhere, gliding from sexy and assured to desperate and pleading, as the mood requires, and often melding with one of the album's many female guest vocalists.
But it's the music, and the wealth of ideas explored here, that truly impress. Consistently revolving between head-bobbing upbeat numbers and slower, more lackadaisical fare, Spouse uses the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure as a springboard, injecting the songs with snippets of variation - an instrumental break here, a tempo change there. Synths plays prominently in opener "Coaster," only to disappear until 10 tracks later in the new wave solo of "Hangover Cure for Humanity."
Despite the carefully inserted diversions, every song here has a well-established path and nothing feels forced. Songs say what they need to say and end succinctly. Even when there is breathing room, such as the instrumental breaks in the title song and "Thunder Royale," the space seems like a natural part of the story. Most of Ayerve's collaborators on Relocation Tactics have been working with him for years, and it shows.
With 15 tracks in 47 minutes, Relocation Tactics strongly argues the power of the three-minute pop song. And damn if Spouse doesn't save the best for last - "Tonight" is as good a pop song as any you're likely to hear this year. (Pigeon Records)
www.spousemusic.com

by Brett Cromwell - Northeast Performer Magazine


"POPMATTERS - Spouse "Relocation Tactics""


Spouse
Relocation Tactics
(Pigeon)
US release date: 10 April 2007
UK release date: Available as import
by Michael Metivier

With its stark, angular artwork, and a set of melodic, jagged tunes to match, Spouse’s latest rock-and-roll tactic appears to be to relocate the field a solid quarter century into the past, when nimble, un-ironic rock songs flitted neon around the hearts and legwarmers of true believers. Witness “Hangover Cure for Humanity�, which finds Spouse constant Jose Ayerve bleating Bonoesque over a lean, Reckoning-style backdrop, but even better than that. Or check “It = Love� which tugs in earnest at those heartstrings still connected to your love of unabashed pop. Relocation Tactics also features an army of Northeastern heroes, from Mark Schwaber and members of the Winterpills, to Erin McKeown and Peyton Pinkerton, who flesh out each song like consummate pros, from the moody “Long Live the Baystate� to the churning closer “Tonight�. Ecstatic and infectious.

* * Multiple songs MySpace

RATING:
7 of 10 - popmatters.com


Discography

http://spousemusic.com/music

1999 - 1 Marvel to DC - 7" vinyl (pgn 001)
1999 - Focus - 7" vinyl (pgn 002)
2000 - Nozomi - CD (pgn 003)
2002 - Love Can't Save This Love - CD (pgn 013)
2004 - Catch 22 Maxi EP - CD (pgn 015)
2004 - Are You Gonna Kiss or Wave Goodbye? (pgn 017)
2007 - Relocation Tactics - CD (pgn 026)
2010 - Confidence - CD (nmr 0220)

Photos

Bio

All Music Guide review of "Confidence" 2010:
Although Spouse is generally thought of as being a solo project by engineer & producer José Ayerve (Winterpills, Pernice Brothers, Haunt), he has gone to great lengths on 'Confidence,' the band's first album for Nine Mile Records, to subsume himself within a group identity, listing his name in the middle among four others (Naomi Hamby, Dan Pollard, J.J. O'Connell, and Ken Maiuri), each of whom gets a photograph the same size on the back cover, and crediting the group as producer. Similarly, all five, plus, occasionally, one of the guest musicians, get credited for writing each of the songs. The album title is a good indication of the musical approach; from the group vocal that begins "No Sudden Moves," there is a feeling of assurance in this music, as the band plays like a band, with propulsive drums, ringing guitars, and clean, audible vocal tracks. Ayerve makes himself a bit more evident as the disc goes on, stepping out as a singer detailing issues of domestic life, sometimes in an idiosyncratic manner. But the overall impression remains one of an accomplished, kinetic unit playing together on some attractive pop/rock tunes.