The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Friday, January 19, 2001

Spoon Is God

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: The new Spoon EP can fool you. Give it a cursory listen and you might write it off as not quite the Spoon you've come to love — you know, the Spoon of A Series of Sneaks. The Spoon who got one shot at releasing an album on a major label, delivered a masterpiece and then were dropped from the label during some label management rearrangements (see their CD single, "The Agony Of Laffitte" for some of the details). Waiting for a new Spoon album, and knowing that it's finally done and coming soon, you could almost decide to just hold off and wait for the full-lengther, Girls Can Tell, which should be here in March. Not me. I bought the EP, Love Ways, and I played it, and then I played it again. And 'cause I knew that there was no way Spoon were gonna release something less than great, I played it again. And again. And then I had to play it again, 'cause, like A Series of Sneaks and Soft Effects EP and Telephono, the album that came before it, it's amazing. And not just 'cause Britt Daniels has one of the great rock 'n' roll voices, a voice that will remind you of John Lennon and Dwight Twilley and a young Alex Chilton — only new and very much not John Lennon/Dwight Twilley/Alex Chilton. There was no lyric sheet included with A Series of Sneaks (or the other releases), and it wasn't easy to decipher what Daniels was singing about. I figure he must be mighty proud of his lyrics now, 'cause they fill the two pages of the four-page CD "booklet" that comes with Love Ways. "Change My Life" gets things rockin', and rockin' real good. The first minute 31 seconds is this killer drums-bass-two guitars instrumental groove that you want playing real loud in your car at three in the morning as you cruise two-lane backroads up North somewhere. Then Daniels starts to sing, and things heat up. "You don't have to please me or pick up my tab," some of the lyric goes. "Don't have to go too fast/ Just change my life, change my life, change my life..." Daniels doesn't want much, just for his life to be all different. And he wants some girl to make it happen. (And, of course, if you're a guy and you connect with the right girl (or a girl and connect with the right girl - well you get the idea), your life does change.) And the music builds some more, with the drums crashing and bashing and the guitar noise swelling and moving into almost dissonant territory. Song two, "I Didn't Come Here to Die," starts off like some white-boy-plays-a-John-Lee-Hooker-boogie thing, but when Daniels sings "All you see is the weight hung round my neck" your perspective shifts way 'round and the music suddenly sounds like his take on T.Rex. I dig this line: "As I drive off into the night alone I can feel it all rush back." And this one: "And when you grow up here it can feel like there's no place else it takes so long to get anywhere at all." Song three, "Jealousy," sounds like a great Dwight Twilley ballad, while song four, "The Figures of Art," traffics in Big Star territory. Another great lyric: "It's easier to drink on an empty stomach than eat on a broken heart...." By the time you get to the end of song five, "Chips and Dip," which has kind of a John-Lennon-as-produced-by-Phil-Spector sound and more of the coolest lyrics ("Perfection's on her tongue rolls out in monotone/ Oh yeah yeah/ That's where the heartache goes") you'll be flippin' out like me, babblin' on about Spoon like I'm doing right now. (You'll also marvel at the "Strawberry Fields Forever"-style outro featured in "Chips and Dip," only it's slipped in before the final verse.) Life is full of surprises; Spoon is God.

Datastream: The new Le Tigre EP, "Le Tigre: From the Desk of Mr. Lady," is an amazing seven-song punk-rock recording in the old (mid-'70s) sense of punk, due out Jan. 23 on Mr. Lady. Le Tigre — Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and J. D. Samson — use lo-fi technology to create powerful rock with a potent message. Their music conforms to no standard, fits no artificial genre categorization. And they've got something to say, which is always refreshing. Sometimes the message is political ("Get Off the Internet" with the line "destroy the right wing") and sometimes the message is pro-feminism ("They want us to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues" is the title of one my favorites). The other songs: "Bang! Bang!," "Yr Critique," the excellent "Gone b4 yr home," "Mediocrity Rules" and a Rachael Kozak remix of "All That Glitters" ... In case you care about such things, Viacom (which, in addition to MTV, MTV2 and VH1, now owns BET, the Nashville Network, the Box, a fleet of radio stations in markets all over America and a handful of big Internet music sites) has put in a bid to buy Cablevision's Rainbow Media, whose assets include the music-video channel MuchMusic U.S.A. And why not have one multinational media conglomerate machine own all the significant music channels?

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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