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Major Arcana

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 9, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

On their debut full-length, Western Massachusetts' Speedy Ortiz manages a bit of magic by conjuring the spirits of classic American indie rock, while twisting those ghosts into new shapes. It's easy to hear the influences of Helium, Jawbox, and Chavez on this album, as well as nods to contemporaries Grass is Green, Pile, and Roomrunner. Sweet vocal harmonies run up against gnarly distortion, aided by basic, chunky bass parts and heavy, fill-laden drums. The album was recorded in a few days in November at Justin Pizzoferrato's (Dinosaur Jr., Chelsea Light Moving) studio, Sonelab.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 9, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Carpark Records
  • ASIN: B00CQRNM9G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,897 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Vinyl
As the guy who made the Archers of Loaf documentary, I know a thing or two about the amazing sound to come out of Chapel Hill in the 90s. (It was the next great rock music scene after Minneapolis. NOT Seattle, as many seem to think.) And Speedy Ortiz nails that amazing guitar-based noise pop sound to the wall, balls included. Beautiful clashing guitars ring through every pop-laced song, where the melody handily escapes the noise, and Sadie Dupuis' vocals carry forth, tinged with sarcasm, sex, sweat and swagger. Rock & roll lives to see another day. Love this record! Love this band! Can't wait to see them live. (Check out not only this, but their 5 song EP, and their two singles on BandCamp, one of which, Ka-Prow! might be my favorite of their songs.)
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By SirTheory on July 9, 2013
Format: MP3 Music
I hadn't found an artist that has made me feel alive in a long time. Which had been fine because with Sonic Youth in the world who needs any other music? At least, that is what I thought until discovered Speedy Ortiz. There are multiple aspects to Speedy Ortiz which come together as a whole; a complete package that makes me feel more alive than I have in years.

1. 90s alternative-influenced guitarwork. I know the "90s" thing gets thrown around a lot with Speedy Ortiz, but for my money the way Speedy Ortiz does it is less throwback and more a continuation of musical ideas born in the 90s, done in a thoroughly current context.

2. Lead singer/main songwriter/guitarist extraordinaire Sadie Dupuis's lyrics are just so... ugh. So good. I read an article which says that each song has that one line which draws you in... and it's true. Some line will come off as humorous or hyper-serious, but always in that thought-provoking kind of way that lets you see the world in a new way.

3. Lyric writing is one thing, but Dupuis has the delivery down to a T. She squeezes her vocals between complex musical ideas, all while giving the lyrics a punch that few vocalists could pull off. I consider it a very modern way of delivering lyrics--it's got that sly English major smart-aleck vulnerability.

Anyway, Major Arcana is some of Speedy Ortiz's best material. The songs twist around an idea--some simple riff, perhaps, or Dupuis's croon--and then flip that idea on its head with a beautifully crafted chorus or bridge. It's like finally seeing in three dimensions--not just for the song, but musicdom as a whole. Not bad for a first (official) full length effort.

If you like this, do DO go and acquire the Speedy Ortiz discography.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is unusual to discover a band that is a precisely balanced ensemble. Typically, one or two elements of a band hoard all the virtuosity and everything else is merely along for the ride. An important signifier that I've encounter an exceptional band is how quickly I find myself taking an interest in what either the bass and/or drums are doing. The first thing the listener confronts (literally) on track 1 of 'Major Arcana' is the remarkable bassist Darl Ferm followed by an equally remarkable drummer Mike Falcone. Together, they adorn the sound of Speedy Ortiz as much as they propel it forward on a wave of rhythm. Song-in-and-song-out these two men always have a lush expression. Mr. Ferm and Mr. Falcone are so effective at entertaining the listener all on their own that the eventual introduction of the strong guitar partnership of Sadie Dupuis and Matt Robidoux comes across as jarring. One, however, quickly acclimates to their fondness for marrying a melody with Slint fashioned dissonance. Long story short, every player adds a proportional magnitude of joie de vivre to the experience that is Speedy Ortiz.

Speedy Ortiz doesn't reinvent the wheel of 1990's indie rock in any important way. What they do is authentically participate in it and, always, they strike the listener as "innovatively familiar". As is well documented, they cast a wide net gathering and conflating 20-ish year old indie sonic tropes. This has a very cute affect on people's reactions to their music. That is, everyone thinks that they sound just like their favorite band from the 1990's. Wow, creating art that makes people that happy via sentiment is a very cool super power! Just like everyone else, I can't stop listening to any of it without feeling joy. Sappy as hell, but accurate.

Ms.
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Format: Audio CD
You know, I try to be "with it", and "in the know". I want to be "up to date" on all the relevant music of today. Even as a kid in short pants growing up in rural Hoosierville I was always buying cassettes at my local record store. If there was some new band everyone was talking about you could be sure I had that in my cassette deck. Granted, being the age I was and my geographical location most of these cassettes were of the hair metal variety. It was 1984 kids. And it was Northeast Indiana. I wasn't listening to R.E.M., Husker Du, The Cure, and Echo and the Bunnymen...not yet, anyways. So as a grown up I'm still trying to keep up on all the relevant indie rock coming down the pike. The early 90s indie rock scene has been raped and pillaged over the last couple years rather dramatically. Some of these revivals have been rather impressive(Yuck, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Parquet Courts), while others have not(Tribes, anyone?). Speedy Ortiz is here to show us their own brand of Pavement dance moves and Nada Surf mope. They seem to have all the right moves. All the off-kilter rhythms and interesting guitar lines are there, and with lead singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis' smart lyrics and biting storytelling they seem to have everything they need to win those jaded indie rock oldsters(old hipsters) approval and love.

I'll just say this right off the bat, there's more Polvo love than Pavement going on here. First off, they're too good of musicians to be Pavement disciples. Pavement were sloppy, stoned, and completely oblivious, which is what made them so good. Speedy Ortiz are much more meticulous in their songwriting and structure.
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