Spiraling first hooked fans and critics with their masterful debut Transmitter, then with their spirited follow-up, Challenging Stage. On the strength of these recordings and their reputation for airtight and explosive live shows, the New Jersey natives forged a knack for compelling musical sophistication. But it is on its forthcoming release, Time Travel Made Easy, that Spiraling makes their most coherent and compelling statement to date.
If there were any band that could make time travel look easy, it would have to be Spiraling. There’s always been something about the band’s trademark interplay of synthesizers, powerful guitars, and piano-driven rock that goes deeper than mere nostalgia. Listening to Time Travel Made Easy, with its panorama of sonic landscapes, one almost gets a sense that Spiraling actually has perfected some method of time travel, and has allowed it to go back to a time when New Wave was actually new, before “prog” became a four-letter word, and when “alternative” was more than just a facile marketing cliché.
While evoking the best of music’s past, Spiraling is undoubtedly a band with a strong vision for its future. Whatever method of time travel they’ve devised, it definitely works in both directions, and they’ve used it to skip ahead and check out what the kids of the next generation will have on their iPods (or whatever musical gadgets they’ll use in the days to come). However you classify it, the style of rock music they’ve brought back with them is powerfully moving and altogether original.
Spiraling’s own history begins in the waning days of the twentieth century, when Tom Brislin, keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter, joined up with bassist Bob Hart to form You Were Spiraling. After releasing a self-produced eponymous debut, the group caught the attention of They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh, who released the band’s next effort, The Hello CD, under the imprint of his Hello Recording Club. After touring the world as a keyboardist for both Meat Loaf and Yes, Brislin revamped his original band concept, dropped two syllables, and added two new members: guitarist Marty O’Kane and drummer Paul Wells. As Spiraling, this lineup toured in support of a number of marquee bands, including OK Go, Live, They Might Be Giants, Violent Femmes, Hot Hot Heat, and many more. The group has also toured Japan as both the opener and backing band for Atlantic recording artist Marion Raven, and, more recently, backed up pop legend Deborah Harry on her 2007 American tour.
In addition to Transmitter and Challenging Stage, Spiraling also released the surprise hit “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, a brilliant mash-up of the holiday classic with The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. The band’s inspired remake of The Cars’ “Bye Bye Love” appeared on Not Lame Records’ Substitution Mass Confusion: A Tribute to The Cars, alongside tracks by Jason Faulkner, Butch Walker, and The Bravery. Spiraling’s own music has been featured on MTV, VH1, and ESPN, as well as major commercial and college radio stations nationwide. The band’s exploits have drawn the attention of publications ranging from The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times to The Onion and Keyboard Magazine.