Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Rhthm and Soul

Spoon have achieved that rare and enviable position in modern music where you can truthfully say that sound like no one else, and no one else sounds like them. From this, you can conclude that only Spoon sounds like Spoon, ergo only Spoon albums sound like Spoon albums and it therefore follows that all Spoon albums sound alike. QED.

This is not intended as a criticism, not at all. Since 2001’s Girls Can Tell they’ve been honing their craft, building lean, indie rock skeletons and infusing them with and hip-shaking soul and by now they’ve got the process down to an art. Their latest Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out today and henceforth known as Ga5, doesn’t stray far from the blueprint with its jagged, stacatto guitars, pounding piano, impeccable drums from Jim Eno and Britt Daniel’s cryptic lyrics and ragged vocals. More than on previous records, certain songs seem like direct descendants of past works but rather than rehashes they sound more like refinements. If you’re looking for distinctions, it’s arguably looser and more upbeat as well as a bit poppier compared to Gimme Fiction but even these variances stay well within Spoon’s tight musical tolerances.

If there is a downside to Spoon’s consistency, it’s that while they always meet expectations and never disappoint, they don’t astonish either. I will always welcome a new record but I don’t think I’ve ever counted down the days to one. By the same token, I don’t ever get into those intense moods where I need to listen to Spoon, the way I do some other bands. You might take this as meaning that I take Spoon for granted, and I probably do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them or that I won’t be in the audience when they’re at the Phoenix on October 15, dancing awkwardly. This really isn’t much of a review but come on. It’s a Spoon album. You know what you’re getting and you know you’ll love it so why ask why.

The Globe & Mail talked to Daniel about the new record a couple weeks ago in Calgary, Austin360 has an interview and Metacritic has aggregated a number of reviews thus far.

MP3: Spoon – “The Underdog”
MP3: Spoon – “The Ghost of You Lingers”
Stream: : Spoon / Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Video: Spoon – “The Underdog” (MySpace)
MySpace: Spoon

Daytrotter has posted their interview and session with The National. Surprisingly, they cover The Psychedelic Furs. Unsurprisingly, it all sounds great.

September 11 brings the release of Hideout, the new album from San Francisco’s Film School. With 3/5 of the lineup that recorded last year’s eponymous album replaced, it’s sure to be a different affair and based on the first MP3, it’s a positive step. It’s still got the driving, hypnotic droniness of that album but new bassist Lorelei Plotczyk’s vocals add a new, softer counterpoint to Greg Bertens’ voice that I like quite a bit. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the record.

MP3: Film School – “Lectric”

Billboard gets some hints from Robert Smith about what to expect from the next Cure record, which will be out in October and not be previewed much on their Fall tour which hits the Air Canada Centre on September 27.

Another Smith from the UK, Maximo Park’s Paul Smith, talks to MTV UK in an interview from mid-June but which I never posted. The Boston Herald has a more recent chat and either way, it gives me an excuse to remind you that they’re at the Mod Club this Saturday but since it’s sold out, said reminder doesn’t really do anyone much good. Ahem.

Added and then removed from the lineup for V Fest Toronto, The Hives will still be coming to town this Fall – the only catch? You have to see Maroon 5. Well I suppose you don’t technically HAVE to stay for the headliner, but otherwise that’s an awful expensive ticket for just the opener. Your call. That show’s at the ACC on October 4.

CMJ has details on the Pixies tribute album coming out this Fall and all its myriad configurations. Normally the formats would be so confusing I wouldn’t bother but the lineup is tasty enough that I’ll keep paying attention. For now.

As CD sales plummet, The Guardian considers the resiliency of vinyl in the music marketplace.

So yesterday I pulled the trigger on a Macbook Pro – one of the 15″ jobbies. My Windows machine is creeping up on four and a half years old and for desktop replacements, the Mac simply looked like the best option. After a lifetime on Windows – and I’m never personally had any problem with it, particularly XP – it’s a little strange and fearful to be moving to a new OS to say nothing of how much trouble it’s going to be getting everything I’ve got currently, both data and hardware organized (I’m keeping the desktop as a storage unit for now). I’ll let you know when it arrives since I know there’s nothing Apple acolytes (Mac-olytes) like more than patting themselves on the back whenever another PC user crosses over.

By : Frank Yang at 8:11 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Dimitri says:

    Macbook Pro 15"!! What can I say, congratulations Frank!

  2. Damon says:


  3. ryan97ou says:

    "Spoon have achieved that rare and enviable position in modern music where you can truthfully say that sound like no one else, and no one else sounds like them."

    While i really like this new album, I have to disagree with this statement. I recently posted about how the song "The Underdog" sounds very similar to Thin Lizzy’s "The Boys Are Back In Town" (http://quarterlifeparty.blo…) as well as "Don’t Yah Evah" sounding pretty close to Pinback’s "Fortress":


    That being said, i think those songs off the new spoon album are two of the best.

  4. brett says:

    did anyone else discover that itunes in the USA released the new stars album today, when it’s supposed to have a september release date? the album in its entirety is available for download at this moment…

  5. Chris says:

    Great writeup on Spoon. You shot that one straight.

    Nice job on the move to Mac. I did about a month ago (and agree [mostly] with your sentiments about XP), but having made the switch, I can’t believe I stayed on a Windows machine for so damn long. I’m very much converted. Now the only issues remains having to work on them at work.

    Some Apple/OS X blog’s worth a look when you’re ready:

  6. uwmryan says:

    I made the switch to Mac about a month ago, and I feel lost and lonely – but making progress!

  7. Sara says:

    Hey Brett, Stars decided to go ahead and release the album digitally in order to bypass the leak phenomenon and offer fans the chance to download the album legally before they can get the hard copy. ("It’s our hope that given a clear, legal alternative to downloading music for free, you will choose to support the creators.") You can read all about it at the Arts & Crafts website (<a href="http://www.arts-crafts.ca/s…">http://www.arts-crafts.ca/stars/</a&gt; or on their MySpace.

  8. clara adams says:

    Hey, I’m sorry if this is a bit off topic but I just got back from the Cat Power show (I don’t know if you attended it, so maybe this review would help).

    To begin, I’ve been to tons of shows. The last Cat Power show, featuring the Memphis Rhythmn Band, was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
    I know you can’t step in the same river twice, but I thought why not give it a try.
    The show was terrible. One of the worst I’ve seen.
    And it wasn’t her fault.

    The bastards at the Phoneix oversold the venue and packed everyone in without adding any air conditioning. By the time Chan hit the stage the place was a sauna. All of the band members, particularily the bassist (the poor soul had a jacket on), kept wiping themselves off with a towel, after, or during, the set. Not taking the day’s heat into consideration – it hit 42 today – was a disservice to the crowd, who had to suffer through the night, and especially the band. How would you like to play under those hot lights when its that hot to begin with?
    Guess what? There wasn’t an encore – I don’t know who was more tired and hot, the band or the audience. As I was walking out, a homeless man asking for change asked how was the show to the people leaving, "hot" a guy putting change into his cup replied.

    I think he summed up the night in that one word.

  9. gurple says:

    In this age of really boring indie rock, Spoon may actually be the dullest of the bunch.

  10. Dan Dickinson says:

    Not to be a math dork, but wouldn’t that be 5(Ga)?

  11. Jon says:

    While I’ve only listend to Gimme Fiction, which garnered all kinds of acclaim, only three songs on that disc were any good. The rest was kind of stale and bland. Am I missing something with these guys?

  12. Dan Dickinson says:


    Listen to Kill The Moonlight. Actually, just listen to "Jonathon Fisk" over and over.

  13. zillie says:

    They are a total snooze. Every time they put something out i try….but total blandness. Strange that a blog named after a RIDE tune would endorse so much lame "indie rock".

  14. James McNally says:

    I definitely think that Ga is better than their last one. Finer Feelings is an amazing song and should in a perfect world be a massive hit. But I no longer think Spoon will "break" any bigger than they already have. And I guess that’s ok. Or as Britt would say, "it’s cool."