The Bilinda Butchers (Photo: Nic Pope)
Justin Paul Vallesteros has a knack for creating woozy bedroom-pop that clenches deep in the pit of your stomach. Melding wistful incantations for the cerebral, Craft Spells recently released their sophomore effort Nausea, a follow-up to Idle Labor, which was about romantic false starts when young. Now they’re back with Nausea, an album about the stomach-churning effects of constantly being plugged into social media, and how that affects intimacy and blurs reality. While the sound is completely different, Nauseau‘s progression toward pensive maturity reminds me of Mac DeMarco‘s Salad Days: more spacious, introspective, and carefully presented while remaining self-effacing.
The Chapel, a still-new venue in the Mission that consistently sells-out shows, laid claim to The Bilinda Butchers‘ record release party for Heaven last Thursday, with Craft Spells headlining. The bb’s, as their fans / friends nicknamed them, presented their new songs to a packed crowd, many who were friends and had met the band while they attended SFSU. Normally a trio, a fourth member had been added for the show on guitar, obviously to create as large of an effect on-stage as possible since it’s not “their preferred form of art.”
Dressed in flannel and looking younger than his actual age, Vallesteros played Craft Spells’ set against a backdrop of clips from noir ’50s flicks. Craft Spells’ nostalgia callback was not subtle; however, it paired well with their meandering ballads that built and crescendo’ed against blissed-out college students’ billows of smoke.
When we interviewed him a few months ago, Vallesteros explained the concept for the album as “in a generation where there is an abundance of web articles that help shape humanity brings out a lot of self-reflection. I don’t particularly like being told how to live my life every day logging into Whatever website or forum. I unplugged from everything and took my time with everything and learned how to be alone without being dependent of synthetic friendships.”