Craft Spells Gallery

Craft SpellsGallery
Stockton, CA's Craft Spells dropped one of the most overlooked albums of 2011 with their debut, Idle Labor. The brainchild of bedroom auteur Justin Vallesteros, the record sounded and looked like it was written, recorded, manufactured and packaged for Factory Records, circa 1986. After supporting both the Pains of Being Pure At Heart and the Drums, the group's profile has risen, just in time to drop this stopgap EP, Gallery. Once again, Vallesteros's bittersweet melodies and quixotic, cloud-lined production are the draw, but he's still exploring new paths, this time by implementing more synthesizers and programmed drums. This augmentation further reinforces the Factory influence, New Order in particular, especially on tracks like "Warmth" and "Sun Trails," with their lovelorn lyrics and new wave-y tones. In the shimmering and skittering "Still Left With Me," Vallesteros gives us one of his best songs yet, but Gallery falls short of living up to what Idle Labor promised, feeling more like a case of the leftovers. With only six songs, it's a breeze to get through, but let's hope Vallesteros recaptures the magic of Craft Spells' debut on whatever they put out next. (Captured Tracks)