Water Spaniel releases “Sky Funeral” and it is great

Posted on Mar 10 2016 - 5:59am by Alice McKelvey

Cleveland-based band Water Spaniel has been making its rounds across the state over the last few years, and their fourth album comes out this Sunday.

(photo courtesy https://www.facebook.com/waterspaniel/)

(photo courtesy https://www.facebook.com/waterspaniel/)

Oh boy, get ready for this one.  It’ll blow your mind.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band live on many occasions, and they’re some incredibly cool guys.

I’m always excited to see a bunch of sweaty 20-something-year-old guys shred in face paint, knitted shawls and gold tights (and I mean that; not only does their music kick a**, but their stage presence is pretty rad, too).  They just played a show featuring all new songs at Proud Larry’s with May Queen and Young Buffalo this Thursday.
If you missed it, I feel sorry for you.

The band thus far has consisted of lead singer Forrest Philpot, guitarist Dylan Crouch, bass player Jesse Mansfield, and drummer Jonathon Hernandez. Hernandez recently moved to Colorado, so Oxford resident Thomas Williams will fill in on drums for shows.
Now back to the album, titled “Sky Funeral.”  Even their album cover is cool.  I’ve listened to their previous albums (and actually own most of them), but Water Spaniel pulls out all the stops for “Sky Funeral.”

“‘Sky Funeral’ was recorded in my basement (called The Crypt) in Memphis,” Mansfield said.  “It was the first time I got to record an album in my own space with my own equipment so that was fulfilling. Since we all live in different places and work jobs/attend school/etc. it was difficult to find time to get parts recorded. This is definitely the longest it’s taken us to get an album recorded but it’s definitely our best one yet, musically and sonically.”

The eight-track album begins with the song “Black Planet/Mega Blocks,” which starts out with nearly three-and-a-half minutes of ambient/experimental noise that’s almost space-like.  The song then progresses into Water Spaniel’s traditional sludgy shoegaze, dreamy vocals and hard interludes of shredding on bass and guitar.
According to Mansfield, there’s plenty of recognizable material that sounds like their other work but they also pushed further into post-rock, noise rock, ambient and electronic territory.
“It’s bigger, weirder, sadder, meaner and overall more fully realized,” Mansfield said.

These tracks do seem to have a darker tone than previous Water Spaniel albums, but I think that’s what makes them unique.  And to put it bluntly, I love it.  The lyrics read like poignant free verse poetry.

In the fourth song “Back Space,” the first stanza reads “standing outside / we were wasted / your mouth & your light still in my skin / unsettled with the way things have settled down / always hope you’ll be okay despite knowing I’m not for now.”
Pretty powerful human emotion stuff, right?

I will say though, my personal favorite from the album is track three, “Honey Island Swamp.”  Cascading guitar riffs over echoing vocals and a heavy bass and drum line create that dream rock feel.
The final song, “Whereabouts,” ties this album nicely together with a more instrumental and noise-esque outro similar to the first song’s intro.

So, boys and girls, “Sky Funeral” is coming out Sunday.
While you’re enjoying your spring break on the slopes in Colorado or out on the beach in Gulf Shores, make sure you add Water Spaniel’s newest album to the mix.  You won’t regret it.

You can check out the rest of their music online (for free!) at waterspaniel.bandcamp.com. And for heavens sake, see this band live next time they’re in town.

– Alice McKelvey