Photo by Jim Anderson
When singer and songwriter Al Spx was trying to think of a name for her new musical project, she remembered a line from James Joyce’s Ulysses from her English studies at the University of Toronto. “Born all in the dark wormy earth, cold specks of fire, evil lights shining in the darkness. Where fallen archangels flung the stars of their brows,” reads the line. She named her project Cold Specks.
Spx first entered into the public’s musical consciousness not in her native Canada, but in Britain. One of her demos found its way across the Atlantic to producer and record engineer Jim Anderson who persuaded her to come over. A dynamite performance on BBC2′s Later…With Jools Holland brought Spx to the attention of the masses in the UK, and her 2012 debut, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, did not disappoint. It does more with less, spare guitar putting the spotlight firmly on Spx’s powerful voice.
She returned to Britain for album number two, writing in the small town of Wick, which is known more for occult tourism than music (“You couldn’t buy socks in the town, but you could buy cauldrons and crystals,” Spx told KUTX’s Elizabeth McQueen). Neuroplasticity retains Spx’s darkness, but this time around she fronts a full-on rock band. The group recently stopped by our Studio 1A, and today’s song of the day comes from this live session. “Living Signs” finds Cold Specks pitched somewhere between coldness and warmth–“doom soul,” as she so eloquently puts it.