Straight Outta Etobicoke - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Straight Outta Etobicoke

Straight Outta Etobicoke

By Eugene S. Robinson

Press Handout Photo of Al Spx
SourceAutumn de Wilde


Because there are remarkably few cures for this kind of musical addiction.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Her bona fides are goddamned impeccable.

Not just for a 26-year-old, which Al Spx, aka Cold Specks, is. Even a casual skim of her background shows that this singer-songwriter-guitarist has little in common with the typical, modern day rock chanteuse: She appeared on a track by former crush-kill-and-destroy turned mordant pop band, Swans; sings on two songs by the quasi-lightweight, but ubiquitous, Moby; and was nominated for a 2013 Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. Which, in our book, she undoubtedly was. 

A fury unseen chips away at me …

— Al Spx

It all sums up to a “sit up and pay attention” type of career start for someone who just a few years ago was studying English literature at the University of Toronto when the urge to make music broke ascendant. The move temporarily disappointed her confused parents who had never heard her sing, never mind play. Originally from the Etobicoke region of Toronto, Spx moved to London where her first album with Mute Records made an impression on U.K. audiences and critics. On her newest album, Neuroplasticity, Spx sings with a certain dark glee. 

I don’t suffer fools gladly,” she trills in “Absisto,” and you completely believe her steeliness as she continues, “A fury unseen chips away at me / If you run out of ammunition.” And between and betwixt the music video’s images of headless corpses falling from dying trees, and saints and dead lovers, you may be tempted to ask what a nice woman like her is doing in a place like this. Though she characterized her sound as “doom soul,” her first album fell into more of a folk sensibility — this time around Spx told Paste magazine she was aiming for an aesthetic adventure that was a little less personal: “I like when musicians create characters. So that’s what I did.”

Spx now lives in Montreal, Canada. Cold Specks is out on tour with dates in the U.S., Canada and Europe through to August 2015. To tide you over until she comes to your town, just “simmer down / settle in” and put her on endless repeat, like we’ve done.


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