In 2012, when Warm Blood was released, Spencer Radcliffe was 19 years old. It was his third album, his first, Old Songs/New Songs, coming as early as 2008. The Ohio-raised, Chicago-based artist is maybe best known for his willingness to utilize organic sounds and field recordings from every day life. Radcliffe is often praised more as a producer than a musician, as many of his compositions demand not so much a performance, but the arrangement of huge amounts of found sounds. Radcliffe, despite his age, has been compared to artists like Bibio or Greg Gillis of Girl Talk, “crafting hazy, disjointed tracks that have more to do with abstract memories at times than music.” (qromag.com)
The most compelling thing about Radcliffe, to me, is his ability to reject his own youth and naiveté. Warm Blood doesn’t present itself as 19-year-old musings, hang-ups, or even observations. It’s an album built entirely from the artists’ community. Instead of sampling sounds of the city or historical rhetoric, Radcliffe uses those around him, be it a neighbor’s daughter or a lengthy voicemail from an old friend, to fill out his compositions. You’re left with a sense of collective nostalgia that resonates more deeply with each cameo. Warm Blood is easy to connect with because Radcliffe doesn’t ask that you feel what he feels. Just that you feel. Radcliffe has created a springboard for us to experience nostalgia for memories that aren’t ours, and, even better, to tap into and better understand a sense of universal sentimentality.
Here are a few of my favorite tracks from the 2012 album, Warm Blood. Radcliffe, from 2013 to 2015, recorded an EP, Sinking Down, a split, Brown Horse, and a full-length album, Looking In, under his full name.
On January 16th, 2016 he released Face Always Toward the Sun under the Blithe Field moniker, which you can listen to here:
“Fear is, is not unusual. And we want to know, ‘What’s going on? And what’s going to happen with our loved one? And what’s going to happen with us?…I don’t really know.”
“In the Moonlight”
“Live In Chicago”
“Yeah, I just got off work. Thought I’d give you a call. I haven’t talked to you in what seems like ages. Just walkin’ to the 3. Figured I’d keep you updated with the, with the city livin’.”
JACK FEHRENBACHER | KXSU Reporter