Starting out in 2014 as a four-piece, Spinning Coin: Sean Armstrong (guitar, vocals), Jack Mellin (guitar, vocals), Cal Donnelly (bass) and Chris White (drums) – the members of Spinning Coin have all been involved in collective, DIY music-making. They may have formed out of Armstrong’s project, the Sean Armstrong Experience, but their unique sound coalesced quickly, with Armstrong and Mellin both bringing songs to the group. Sometimes, their material is sculpted from jamming in their practice room: it’s an egalitarian way of working, a politic reflected in much of the members’ other music too, whether White’s involvement with the Winning Sperm Party collective, Donnelly’s membership of Breakfast Muff, or Mellin’s time with Smack Wizards.
Over the space of three years, two singles and countless gigs, including tour supports with Teenage Fanclub and Real Estate, Spinning Coin have determinedly made their music heard: beautifully rough-hewn guitar pop that takes in frustration and escapism, but also gracefulness and splendour. Their first album, ‘Permo’, recorded with Edwyn Collins at his AED Studios, and at Glasgow’s Green Door with Stu Evans, captures this balance perfectly. It’s an album both of bold steps and of simple gestures, coming from a group who have found, seemingly effortlessly, a confident, unpretentious way of working together.
The fourteen songs on ‘Permo’ trace all kinds of terrain, though the overarching story might be that of a group looking for escapism, somehow and anyhow, in the midst of a social and cultural climate that’s closing down possibilities for difference and community. What gives Spinning Coin’s songs nuance, though, is their self-awareness. “I’m really singing to myself, to be honest,” Mellin reflects, and there’s nothing didactic about these songs. Spinning Coin write from lived experience, grounding their songs in an understanding that we’re all finding our way through the world, trying to figure out what the hell is going on out there.
They’ve also just welcomed new member Rachel Taylor, who appears on the album, offering, amongst other things, ghostly backing vocals on “Running With The World”. That’s a typically Spinning Coin development: a group fiercely engaged with community, welcoming new experience into their orbit, and looking for ways to move forwards with a warmth for humanity. It’s writ large across Permo – finding better ways to live, and to be together in the world, against the odds.