by Josh Ginsberg (@world0fdarkness)
Turn Heel is the debut LP by New York’s Miracle Sweepstakes. Out 11/11 on One Weird Trick, Turn Heel is preceded by a bevy of singles, including “Maranatha,” “Ha Ha Ha,” “Charles ii,” “Diagonal Retreat,” and b-side “Time Is the Joke” that are as consistently weird as they are tuneful.
Led by guitarist and singer Craig Heed, Miracle Sweepstakes traces a line between the baroque pop of Zombies and the abrasive experimentation of Adrian Belew’s King Crimson. Heed’s chiming guitar work evokes the densely webbed playing of Elliott Smith and Johnny Marr, if they used the pedals of Andy Summers. Recorded as a power trio, featuring Doug Bleek on the bass and Ian Miniero on the drums, the Miracle Sweepstakes of Turn Heel sounds like a version of The Police obsessed with genteel British psychedelia. Like The Police, a large part of the Miracle appeal comes from their oily, elastic interplay, which remains tight as the songs veer through strange time changes and modulations. But I believe a larger part of what makes Miracle Sweepstakes a special band is their malleability. Although you can definitely say they have a distinct sound of their own, Miracle Sweepstakes is extremely dynamic—less in terms of the ability to ramp up from soft to loud or from slow to fast than from depressive to ebullient in the span of a measure and from there to some new more tonally ambiguous terrain. “Maranatha” shifts in feel from “There She Goes” by The La’s to a chorus angular enough to be compared to Fugazi but huge enough to evoke “Everlong.” Between those stops they herk-n-jerk from the nocturnal sway of “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” to the Latin bounce of “Ask” to full-throttle prog as chord progressions emerge once, disappear and are replaced by yet another unique sequence of notes. The changes can be dizzying but they’re extremely gratifying and frankly impressive.
Even though Miracle Sweepstakes has released a lot of songs from Turn Heel previously, the unheard tracks that remain are a treat. Sing-along “Interpellate,” which seems to riff on Leapling deep cut “Seventeen,” manages to evoke some of the same feels as “This Must Be the Place.” “Rapture” drags you through its pitch-black distortion like a crocodile drowning its prey. “Makers Script” runs frantically through a nightmarish world, its chorus approximating a free fall. The playful riffing of opener “Ring Reader” gives way to one of the album’s most sweetly aching choruses and pastel phasing.
Miracle Sweepstakes celebrates the release of Turn Heel with a release show this coming Friday, 11/11 at New York’s Cake Shop. Anna Altman, No Friends and Nick Allison & The Players Lounge (TX) will share the stage with Miracle Sweepstakes. You can buy Turn Heel on One Weird Trick here and stream the whole thing below.