Track-by-Track: Flying Through Spun Out’s Cosmic Debut Album ‘Touch the Sound’

Touch The Sound - Spun Out
Chicago outfit Spun Out’s debut album ‘Touch the Sound’ is as ethereal as it is enchanting – a buoyant immersion of lush energy beckoning listeners to take a sip of euphoria.
Stream: “Another House” – Spun Out

Ever since an exciting, nuanced debut in mid-2019, Chicago’s Spun Out have been building up a world of colorful and provocative indie rock that is all their own.

Formed in the ashes of the disbanded NE-HI, the Midwestern collective of Alex Otake, James Weir, and Michael Wells (and plenty of friends) have let their creativity run wild with illustrative sounds, compelling melodies, and fervent lyrics that could have soundtracked any time of year, but feel especially potent this summer. Released August 21 via Shuga Records / Spun Out Productions, Spun Out’s debut album Touch the Sound is as ethereal as it is enchanting – a buoyant immersion of lush energy beckoning listeners to take a sip of euphoria.

Touch The Sound - Spun Out
Touch The Sound – Spun Out
Slowly in doubt another house, I open
I keep running out to slipping howls
Then I go to sleep
And when the weather came down
Let the house lay bare
I want to touch the sound
I want to burn it with my stare
So when I call out your name
You can tell I look right through
And the walls of your fame
Destroying, destroying all of you
And let the weather come down
Let the house lay bare
I want to touch the sound
I want to burn it with my stare
So let me call out your name
You can see I look right through you
And the walls of your fame
Destroying, destroying all of you
– “Another House,” Spun Out

Some albums (most albums) have some subset of standout tracks that elevate the overall listening experience to the next level, and if we’re honest with ourselves, Touch the Sound is no exception – but in point of fact, it is. Opening songs “Another House” and “Such Are the Lonely” may be early fan favorites, but it’s the full 43-minute immersion that, as a cohesive and singular unit, dazzles brightest.

Spun Out © Tim Nagle
Spun Out © Tim Nagle

“I think this album reflects a collective of musicians trying to spread joy and positivity through collaboration and the love of making art,” Spun Out’s James Weir tells Atwood Magazine. “I’m proud of the growth that we experienced as players and also the amount of studio experience we gained on the production end and all the heads that came in on this thing and contributed. We created a platform where all voices and ideas are welcome and respected and I’m proud of that.”

Taking its name from a lyric in its introductory song, Touch the Sound evokes a willingness to dive headfirst into the unknown; an openness to explore the void in actively shaping your future, with the full recognition that time will take its course with or without us. Its music evokes both a tune in and tune out mentality, making its late-summer release all the more fitting.

Touch the Sound comes from one of the lyrics in one of our first tunes “Another House”. That song, and a lot of the album, is about the scariness and excitement of coming out of our old band’s break up,” Michael Wells explains. “It really called for us to throw away all our hang ups about being in a band and the music industry, and purely focus on making art that was exciting. I think the whole album feels multi-sensory, so I thought “Touch the Sound” bridges the kind of vision we fell into while making this record.”

I’m not sure what you mean
They say I’ve been this dumb since I was 19
Barely come alive
Yeah, I’ve been tossed around and kicked out for life
On Saturday, I’m in the cold dark night
Battered all the way, just feeling soulless
Such are the lonely
Such are the lonely
I’d never know, I never knew to live without you
I’d never know, I never knew to learn in doubt
– “Such Are the Lonely,” Spun Out

Spun Out © Tim Nagle
Spun Out © Tim Nagle

Spun Out have successfully avoided, if not altogether defied genre definition. Their debut album is a dynamic and exciting spectrum of music, encompassing softer, tender moments like “Antioch – Easy Detroit” and “Cruel and Unusual” (the latter featuring Caroline Campbell), points of deep groovy goodness as in the sublime “Don’t Act Down,” and unapologetic punky feverishness as in “Pretender.” By the time “Plastic Comet” soars into its grand finale, we’re ready to start all over again. Touch the Sound is a cosmic jam – a tapestry of invigorating outpourings of sound that will surely leave listeners hungry for more.

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Spun Out’s Touch the Sound with Atwood Magazine as the band’s Michael Wells and James Weir go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!

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:: stream/purchase Spun Out here ::
Stream: ‘Touch the Sound’ – Spun Out

:: Inside Touch the Sound ::

Touch The Sound - Spun Out

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This was one of the first tunes I wrote while transitioning my writing process from guitar to keyboards. After finding a solid bouncy chord rhythm on the Korg Poly-61 and then discovering a cool key change that really alters the energy at 1:16, we just continued to add as many interesting layers as possible. Warm string synths and Eno-esc. fuzz guitars. Definitely one of the flagship tunes that started the sound of the group. – JW


Pre-pandemic, I worked at Danny’s, which is a little bar/dance club in Chicago. I was getting turned onto a lot of house music at the time, which inspired the sound of this one. Shiraz and Nic from Deeper laid down a really nice rhythm section which allowed the synth stuff to soar. Big shout out to Kevin Jacobi on the outro saxophone and producer Joshua Wells on the chorus arpeggio. – JW


It combines goth, house and disco and it puts an additional theatrical element to it. We laid a chapel organ and baggy backbeat to it, along with some really reflective percussion and synthesizers, giving it a very eclectic feel. If you’ve seen Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER, there was an intention to capture that flick’s paranoia in the lyrics. – MW


One of our oldest tunes that we transformed through a live take and added production techniques into some kind of Echo and the Bunnymen meets Pink Floyd weirdo rocker. The lyrics make it a real finger pointing song! – MW


We really wanted this album to have peaks and valleys with a serious diversity of style. This one started as two demo vignettes inspired by Massive Attack trip-hop vibes. Mikey found a great way to bridge his vocals between the two ideas, which became one song. – JW


This one started off with a couple of ideas strung together, trying to meld the disparate worlds of GARY NUMAN and FELA KUTI, but then quickly became something much bigger in its own fashion.  I think the goal was to make something hi-fi but very surprising, and through everyone’s collaboration came about an industrious, expansive pop track. – MW


Piano driven with a deep percussion track. Unashamedly inspired by my favorite band Talk Talk, haha. We brought in my cousin Patrick Donohoe from Minneapolis to lay down the second lead vocal. Great synth arpeggio by Sean Page in the bridge. Lots of family and friends helped make this one come to life. That meant a lot to me. – JW


Started as an attempt at making a dub track, eventually becoming an attempt at recreating 80s house with some chainsaw post punk guitars. We really played with sampling, dubbing and editing, so its constantly bouncing. I like that it combines aggressive vocals while having jazzy keyboards to heat it up and cool it off. –  MW


Originally titled, “Ode to a Bicycle”, this demo began right after my bike was stolen! R.I.P. Motobecane. We’ll meet again one day. New wave/gothy vibes. Caroline Campbell, one of my favorite Chicago artists, came in and laid down those beautiful backing harmonies. Super cool to get her and Mikey’s vocals on the same track. – JW


This song is about love and the duality of self. A lot of what this record’s ethos rests on that and the lyrics of this song focus on the universality of emotion. It starts really spare and heart-wrenching, but becomes a very cathartic anthem. It definitely feels like the last act and we always felt it made the most sense as a closer of this batch of songs. – MW

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:: stream/purchase Spun Out here ::

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Touch The Sound - Spun Out

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