November 2017 Album of the month: OCS “Memory of a Cut Off Head”

We are already reaching the 11th month of the year and I hope you enjoyed these regular reviews as much as I liked doing them. November was probably not the best month of the year but with still enough material to find seven records to enjoy. Stay tuned for next month as you will get two for the price of one: December Album of the month but also the usual Best of the Year list!

Album of the month: OCS“Memory of a Cut Off Head” – Pop Rock – I was actually quite happy to be able to promote this album as the best of the month as a kind of reward to its main creator. John Dwyer is an incredible talent and his energy is limitless. He leads at least three different bands (OCS, Thee Oh Sees and Damaged Bug) and releases in average two records per year. This is actually his third record of 2017 and with OCS you will discover his soft side whereas he is dedicated to psychedelic rock with Thee Oh Sees and to German-influenced repetitive rock with Damaged Bug. What makes this record probably different from his other works is that there is a real sensitivity and female voices… which to my mind is a great thing as I am a huge fan of women in rock.

 

  • Runner-up: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds“Who Built the Moon?” – Pop Rock – …good question indeed Mr G…. While Liam G. has recently released a quite boring LP, his big brother keeps on being more adventurous and his latest work is by far the most interesting of all post-Oasis productions. A mix of psychedelic rock with a few dance sounds whilst keeping the melodic sense of their leader. In other words, a record that should please Oasis fans as much as less traditional music fans.
  • Also recommended:
    • Shamir “Revelations” – Pop Funk – Post depression blues album for the young transgender man. Not always easy to listen to but a few tracks are very moving and beautiful.
    • Eera – “Reflection of Youth” – Pop Folk – Latest opus from the UK-based Norwegian young woman; very much PJ Harvey and Joni Mitchell-influenced.
    • Charlotte Gainsbourg “Rest ” – Pop Rock – Probably not the masterpiece defended in the French media but there are a few very good tracks. I guess it may be a grower in the months to come.
    • Morrissey “Low in High School” – Pop Rock – Morrissey did not become a nazi as read here and there but this is true that his words are sometimes ambiguous… There are a few very bad tracks in this album but also a few great ones so this is definitely a record to discover.
    • Mavis Staples “If all I was was Black” – Soul Rock – Another great collaboration between Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and the amazing 78-year old Mavis Staples. She is one of the truly greats of all times and I consider myself honoured to see her in 2011 at Austin City Limits. Beautiful music and important words in today’s America…
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile – “Lotta Sea Lice

 

Oktober Fest! Part Six: Daryl Hall & John Oates, O2 Arena, 28th October 2017.

Do not worry ; this is the final part of these series and I will stop mentioning this Oktober Fest after this final post. Third day in a row and what better way to end up this mini-festival than to see two of the best songwriters of all times?

Chris Isaak, London O2 Arena, 2017

But first things first. As part of this so-called London Bluefest festival (weird name indeed…), I was delighted to see the excellent Chris Isaak act as the opener before the main gig. Chris Isaak arrived on the music scene in the mid-80’s and although he did not change completely the face of music, he brought something very interesting mixing classic old American rock in the tradition of Roy Orbison while having his own fresh attitude. This is no coincidence that his music has been used a lot by David Lynch in his movies and “Wicked Games” remains one of the greatest songs ever. That night’s set was close to what one could expect and although Chris Isaak ages like everyone else, he keeps his good looks, friendly behaviour towards his musicians and audience… and an amazing taste in suits!

Daryl Hall & John Oates, London O2 Arena, October 2017

After this nice moment, I had great hopes for Daryl Hall & John Oates…but a bit worried as well. Although I have no trouble affirming that their music is amazing and being over this notion of guilty pleasures, I wanted to believe that their shows were as good. There are plenty of examples of formerly great artists (Dionne Warwick, Rod Stewart or Sly Stone for instance) whose gigs in recent years have been embarrassing and I wanted to believe it would not be the case that night.

Daryl Hall & John Oates, London O2 Arena, October 2017

Rest insured, it has not been so and on the contrary, it was one of the most buoyant shows I had ever seen. How could it be differently with so many amazing songs? John Oates remains to Daryl Hall a bit what Art Garfunkel was to Paul Simon, i.e. a great lieutenant but the leader remains for sure Daryl Hall. Although his haircut has been kept artificially blonde and in waves, his voice did not lose anything with years. For those totally unfamiliar with pop music, Hall & Oates have been considered one of the best blue-eyed soul performers of the genre, which means to make it short soul music written and played by white Californian guys. Their music was at their peak in the 70’s and 80’s but they remained active these latest years through collaborations and tours. I was particularly impressed by their musicianship and by the way these two guys were so talented as musicians.

Daryl Hall & John Oates, London O2 Arena, October 2017

Please click on the setlist to get a better picture and the quality of it and of how these songs are part of our lives. Apart maybe from Paul McCartney, I am not sure to have experienced a concert where I knew the words of all tracks. The fact also that a song like “I Can’t Go For That” has been sampled by the hip hop band De La Soul in 1989 in “Say No Go” or recently by the young English band The Xx with “On Hold says it all as far as their influence is concerned. Find a way to catch them live as soon as possible if you want to spend a very happy and joyful evening.

 

The Rolling Stones discography : Part One – The 60’s

Five years ago, I started an ambitious task: review and rate all The Rolling Stones‘ studio LP’s. Not that huge a burden actually as there are not so many of them despite a career above fifty-five years now. I started with the 70’s… but forgot a bit about this review for the other decades. Their recent excellent gig in Paris and a special issue of les Inrocks 2 on their complete discography made me want to resume this task again so let’s ignite our time machine and travel back to the 60’s.

Complete review: Part II (the 70’s) – Part III (the 80’s) – Part IV (the 90’s until today)

Let’s start this review with something important to mention first. It may appear weird in our current age but until “Between The Buttons” included, there were different versions between UK and US albums. In other words, there are actually more US albums and those were including singles, meaning these versions may appear superior sometimes. It has been decided here to stick to the UK versions as a)…well, this is a UK band b) the UK versions reflect much better the evolution of the band. It will mean for instance that “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is not reviewed here as absent in the UK version of “Out Of Our Heads“. The “Singles Collection: The London Years” boxset is therefore very much recommended to get all these amazing singles in one place.

RS64.jpg The Rolling Stones (1964) : Is there a better way to introduce The Rolling Stones to the world that spend a few minutes analysing this cover? These guys are indeed a bit menacing, dedicated, rough and away from the light in real life as they are shot on this great picture. This first album is basically a testimony of what the band were at this early stage, i.e. young UK lads playing American blues as if their life depended on it. All songs are covers apart from one Jagger/Richards track and a few of them are a bit clumsy but overall no better way to say to the world: “Hi, we’re The Rolling Stones and we’re here to stay”. (7.5/10). Key tracks : “Route 66“, “I’m A King Bee” & “Walking The Dog“.

TheRollingStonesNumber2.jpg The Rolling Stones #2 (1965) : Nothing much to add vs. the review of their first album as this is basically the same formula: young UK band covering US blues numbers with a tremendous energy. The boys were still in their learning phase and would have plenty of time to write classic songs in the future. (7/10). Key tracks : “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love“, “Time Is On My Side” & “Off The Hook”.

Out+of+Our+Heads+-UK-.jpg Out Of Our Heads (1965) : Their 3rd album was a bit disappointing as one would have expected a real evolution of the formula, which was not the case at all. The three Jagger/Richards tracks are solid and promising but the majority of the covers are not as good as those from the previous two albums. Time to change the formula then for the upcoming fourth LP? (7/10). Key tracks : “Mercy, Mercy”, Heart Of Stone” & “I’m Free“.

RSAftermathUK.jpg Aftermath (1966) : …and the answer is yes, of course! No more covers here but fourteen original Jagger/Richards songs. The band were still searching and trying a few things, which may appear incredible now when one thinks as how controlled famous bands have been by their record company in the following years. There is in particular a blues/drone number called “Goin’ Home” which lasts more than eleven minutes and stills sound as fresh now as fifty years ago. (8/10). Key tracks : “Mother’s Little Helper”, “Under My Thumb” & “Out Of Time”.

BetweenthebuttonsUK.jpg Between The Buttons (1967) : Another famous cover which is self-explanatory. The boys appear tired and slightly under the influence whereas Brian Jones in particular looks to lose the plot… Not far from the reality as the genius founder of the band was feeling more and more that he was losing the control of his band…and this despite his tremendous sense of arrangements. Not a big step forward overall vs. their previous album but still a very good one (8/10). Key tracks : “She Smiled Sweetly”, “Cool, Calm & Collected” & “Complicated”.

Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request - 1967 Decca Album cover.jpg Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) : This would finally be the end of this stupid US vs. UK policy and one could enjoy the same album all over the world. This is probably their least beloved album…and to me one of their best! Let’s have in mind that 1967 was the year of The Beatles‘ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and indeed it looks The Rolling Stones had in mind to enter the so-called psychedelic music whatever the consequences. Many critics and fans consider it as a flawed piece but this is not the case at all when one listens without prejudice. A few songs are very interesting in their sound texture in particular. Above all, there are also a few songs which to me are amongst the best ever written by Jagger/Richards. …And this is the only album with a song credited to Bill Wyman… and this is the last LP on which Brian Jones was really involved. Re-discover it! (8.5/10). Key tracks : “Sing This All Together”, “She’s A Rainbow” & “2000 Light Years From Home“.

BeggarsBanquetLP.jpg Beggars Banquet (1968) : I did not put the “toilet” cover although it is that which is available now and which was originally intended by The Rolling Stones. But no revisionism in this blog: the record was released with its white cover and that is the way it was. This is the first record of The Rolling Stones golden era of four immense masterpieces in a row and no better way to start this era than with the bongo introduction of “Sympathy For The Devil“. Their best album so far although to my mind it does not deserve the perfect rating as a couple of tracks are only very good… and not sublime (9.5/10). Key tracks : “Sympathy For The Devil”, “No Expectations” & “Street Fighting Man“. 

LetitbleedRS.jpg Let It Bleed (1969) : This is to me their absolute best record, hence the very rare rating I gave as for all albums everyone should have. Strange also that this fantastic album was actually their first release after firing Brian Jones in the summer of ’69. We all know the story about the way poor Brian Jones would not survive for a long time and be found dead in his swimming pool in July of that year. Enter the young and very gifted Mick Taylor on guitar but also key collaborators such as Nick Hopkins on piano or Bobby Keyes on saxophone. The rule to select three tracks is a bit ludicrous here as it means “You Got The Silver“, “Love In Vain” or “Midnight Rambler” for instance have to be eliminated! I defy anyone not to have shivers down their spines while listening to the first guitar notes of the record and the first words …”Oh, a storm is threatening my very life today…” (10.5/10). Key tracks : “Gimme Shelter”, “Live With Me” & “You Can’t Always Get What You Want“.

Stay tuned for Part III and the 80’s ; I promise it will be done before 2022!

Oktober Fest! Part Five: Tears For Fears, Royal Albert Hall, 27th October 2017. “Funny how….time…flies…”

Almost a mini festival as after Aimee Mann the previous day and before another band (soon revealed!) the day after, I attended my 2nd gig in a row at the great Royal Albert Hall venue.

Tears For Fears, Royal Albert Hall 2017

Tears For Fears is probably THE band I had never seen in my life which I was dreaming to catch up on stage and I was closely following their moves since they reformed a few years ago and especially since their summer gig in the not-so-nice Hyde Park festival (not so nice because much too crowded and with a poor sound system…). They actually decided just a few weeks ago to play this one-shot concert to promote their best of album to come and a more traditional tour in 2018.

I must say I was not one hundred percent sure that the original duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were back together again but that was so, to mine and the audience’s pleasure that night. Although they were not as sharp when they started to make still good records on their own, one must recognize that their first three LP’s are amongst the best of any genre or era. Assimilating Tears For Fears as part of a nostalgic 80’s act is pure laziness because these songs are really amazing, moving and inventive and this has nothing to do with listening to them at a certain age in one’s life.

Tears For Fears, Royal Albert Hall 2017

I guess I am lying a bit here as the crowd were mainly in their forties and fifties and one could find a sense of nostalgia in the air… Anyway, the band were on top form and despite dramatic family events faced recently by Roland Orzabal, they were both singing and playing like young guys. Their band was also excellent with a particular mention to their backup singer who was singing “Woman in Chains” as if he were Oleta Adams!

Tears For Fears, Royal Albert Hall 2017

The playlist was extraordinary and almost every song is a classic. I was personally surprised to get as early in the concert a song like “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (one of my favourites ever). The end of the show however was perfect, finishing with “Head Over Heels” and “Shout“. Ever wanted to feel like being part of a giant karaoke? Well go and see Tears For Fears playing “Shout” on stage in the UK!

My favourite concert of the year? Well, close to it probably…

Oktober Fest! Part Four: Aimee Mann, London Palladium, 26th October 2017

..and here we are, back again on the other side of the Channel and this time in the very heart of the city at the nice Palladium theatre. This venue is full of history…including mine as this is the place where I have attented gigs from Brian Wilson, Bryan Ferry or Elvis Costello for instance.

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Aimee Mann is probably one of my favourite female singers of all times and although I do recognize her skills in composing songs, her humour, the bitterness and tenderness of her words and her sense of melodies, what moves me the most with her is actually her voice. Like many other people, I discovered her through Paul Thomas Anderson‘s fantastic movie “Magnolia” and her subsequent amazing album “Bachelor #2 or, the last remains of the dodo“. She has always had lots of affiliations with the movie industry: she used to be married to the great musician Michael Penn (brother of Sean) and was a key nihilist member in the Coen brothers’ classic movie “The Big Lebowski“!

Her current musical partner is Jonathan Coulton and those familiar with the series “Braindead” know his voice as he sings a summary of previous episodes at the start of each new one. He was the opening act but also very much present during Aimee’s set as he co-wrote many songs of her last album “Mental Illness” (one of our March albums of the month).

I was delighted to see her again and was really expecting this gig. No disappointment as she is on stage as one expects her to be as in real life, i.e. charming, communicative, funny…and very tall! Her voice is a beautiful on stage as it is on records and her setlist was a great mix of songs from all her career. Catching Aimee Mann on stage or listening to her records is a bit like drinking hot milk with honey, it means times are tough overall but you feel much better during and after her set.

Oktober Fest! Part Three: The Rolling Stones, 22nd October, U Arena, Paris

…well this arena is in Nanterre actually but it does not look so good as Paris on paper. Actually, it may sound as exotic for non-French people as Weston-super-Mare looks to me so I guess this is a question of referential… So I left my beloved readers last time in a tiny venue with the excellent Chad VanGaaalen and here we are now on the other side of the Channel to catch the Rolling Stones in this new arena which was inaugurated for their first show a few days before. The band decided to finish this short European tour with three dates in Paris and as Mick Jagger mentioned during that night it was their 32nd show in Paris.

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It is true that a cynical person could state that they are only here to beat records but to me this is not the only reason. It is true that their longevity is impressive and now that everyone more or less agrees that they do not keep on playing just for money (they are already very rich…), there must be something else. This something else is an easy one; it is called love of music and also loving being on stage and partying in front of thousands of people.

The Rolling Stones  @ U Arena, Nanterre, 22 Oct 2017

I was not thrilled to go back catching them in Paris as I must admit that when you are used to going to gigs in the UK you tend to find people’s behaviour not that great in your own country. Things were a bit different in the U Arena as it looked like the kind of shows for people…who never go to concerts. The Rolling Stones were an event to attend and to share in Facebook. I am pretty sure 80% of the audience would have been in trouble if asked which were their Rolling Stones Top 5 albums… A bit like those wearing Ramones tee-shirts : I would be surprised if the majority of them could mention three songs… Anyway, let’s stop being snobbish and review the show.

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One word: great! It was my third Rolling Stones gig after Paris in 1990 and Rio do Janeiro in 1999 (I know…) and I must say it was the best by far. The four remaining original members have an average age of 73 (!) years and they play like hell, despite Charlie Watts on drums looking a bit like a zombie… Mick Jagger jumps like a guy in his thirties, Ron Wood is really sharp now after being sober for many years and Keith… is Keith! I even caught him getting a cigarette on stage!

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What was more important was the fact that I felt catching these guys in a small blues club, with Mick Jagger playing very often the harmonica and Keith and Ronnie playing their sometimes not-so-perfect riffs with a smile and a real human touch I had not seen in ages. The setlist was almost the same every night with only a few changes on the blues covers (taken from their latest fantastic album “Blue & Lonesome“). Great stage show as well ; very simple but straight to the point with excellent giant screens. Catch them if you can.

Next episode of the Oktober Fest: back to London with the beautiful Aimee Mann; stay tuned!

Note: photos are not mine, meaning I attended the gig the old-fashioned way!

October 2017 Album of the month: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile “Lotta Sea Lice”

Another busy month for records’ releases; I guess it never really stops except in December. A few big names with listenable but slightly boring records (hello Liam Gallagher, Beck, Stereophonics or Bill Corgan) and a very embarrassing one from former hip-hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan… However, a great number of very good records and as usual very tough to keep a selection of seven of them. Anyway, here we go for October:

Album of the month: Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile“Lotta Sea Lice” – Pop Rock – …and yes, I know, Kurt and Courtney… Having mentioned that, when two of one’s favourite and cherished artists of the last years decide to collaborate on a record, one is very often suspicious about the results. In other words, in music, the sum of two great talents on a record is often disappointing. This is not at all the case here and on the opposite, it looks these two musicians improved their games vs. their recent releases (well, this is true at least for Kurt Vile…). They met a bit by chance after making known their respective interest and appreciation in each other’s music and eventually made a song, then enough material for an E.P…and lo and behold here you are with one of the best records of the year. Very laid back and beautiful music and the kind of records we would probably have enjoyed in summer time…so enjoy it everywhere you live and especially for our beloved Brazilian readers!

 

  • Runner-up: St. Vincent“Masseduction” – Pop Rock – A bit samey here as I had a bad feeling concerning the new record from Annie Clark, alias St. Vincent for stupid reasons: she got famous in tabloids, her music looked less and less from the heart, etc… So good news are that I was entirely wrong. Her album is as usual quite different from previous ones and ready to explore electronic sounds but in a very emotional context overall and with beautiful songs.
  • Also recommended:
    • The Weather Station “The Weather Station” – Folk  Rock – Meet Canadian singer Tamara Lindeman and her beautiful Joni Mitchell-sounding songs…with bitter lyrics.
    • Robert Plant – “Carry Fire” – Pop Rock – Another beautiful album from the former Led Zeppelin singer where he mixes his love of rock’n’roll and oriental music
    • Sananda Maitreya “Prometheus & Pandora ” – Every style – 59 (!) new tracks from the artist formerly known as Terence Trent d’Arby. Not everything is great but there are a few gems to discover. And what a joy to hear that amazing voice of his again.
    • Bully “Losing” – Pop Rock – The Sundays meet Nirvana. Great guitar record.
    • Fever Ray “Plunge” – Electropop – Great and weird new album from Karin Dreijer, singer of the Swedish band The Knife.
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – The National – “Sleep Well Beast

 

Oktober Fest! Part Two: Chad VanGaalen, London, Oslo Hackney

The name Oslo may be confusing for a few of you but I did not go to Norway to see this gig but stayed in the hip Eastern London district of Hackney. However, that was a very international event as Chad VanGaalen is a Canadian citizen from Calgary, Alberta while I was honoured to attend the gig surrounded by prestigious guests from New Zealand and Scotland.

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…and what a nice venue it was. Literally positioned at the exit of the Overground station, the Oslo is more a pub than anything else with a small but nice stage room on the first floor. The room was packed and probably close its maximum capacity. Nice to get that sweaty and drunky feeling again amongst the audience as my latest gigs were in bigger venues and probably cleaner.

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The night started well with a very nice opening young band called Mauno, also from Canada and whose music was to me a mix of Pixies and C86 UK Pop sensitivity. The big Chad and his cap were then on stage for a superb set. Chad VanGaalen is one of this typical musician you know when you are interested in indie rock although one would have difficulties to hum one of his songs under the shower. His style is pure indie rock mixing a great energy within a pop sensitivity. To come back to my previous point, his songs should actually be whistled easily as they are very melodic. I think his latest and new LP called “Light Information” is probably the easiest to grab so far and listening to it first is good idea if you want to know more about this excellent and recommended musician. An excellent concert overall with a special reward to his guitarist’s nice beard.

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Next episode of the Oktober Fest: The Rolling Stones in Paris. Size does not matter as they say but neither age ; stay tuned!

Oktober Fest! Part One: Grizzly Bear, London Brixton Academy.

October has been indeed a particularly busy month for this blog’s writing team with no less than six gigs in twenty days. All sorts of bands (known/less known/old/young) and in very different venues. Let’s start this particular series with one of our Brooklyn favourites: Grizzly Bear at the Brixton Academy on the 9th October 2017.

Grizzly Bear, London, October 2017

Playing the Academy means a kind of success for lots of bands or artists as it means they are in a position to reach a quite massive audience…just before the big arena sizes. Grizzly Bear is typically this sort of band. They are quite famous..but not that much and are successful in keeping their indie rock credibility. There is a huge chance for almost everyone to be familiar with their 2009 tune “Two Weeks” as it has been quite used in ads or tv series. However, I am pretty sure that the general audience does not really know their overall discography. The latter has been very consistent with five LP’s and two EP’s and one really feels that the group is constantly improving towards beautiful and simple music, while retaining a certain strangeness to it. Their latest LP “Painted Ruins” was one of our best albums of the month in August 2017 and I must say I discover new subtleties every time I listen to it.

Grizzly Bear, London, October 2017

I felt the same way while catching them live, my personal second time after the 2012 Pitchfork Festival in Paris. These guys will definitely never be rock stars (…whatever it means) as their attitude, the way they dress and how they perform on stage do not create mayhem or an immediate need to stage-dive! However, if what you want from a band is craftsmanship, beauty and amazing voices, they are the ones for you. They all are tremendously gifted musicians (often swapping instruments) but their talent is very much used for the song and not the other way round (like alt-J for instance). Despite a few slightly boring moments here and there, I must say enjoying it overall a lot and being quite moved by the beauty of a few songs. The perfect band to catch if you are in the right mood.

 

Stay tuned for Part Two with Chad VanGaalen, coming next!

Spoon – Complete discography and review of the 30th June, 2017 concert (London, O2 Forum Kentish town)

A bit like those great American bands such as Shearwater or The National, I must say I really discovered the greatness of Spoon’s music in 2007 only, i.e. more than ten years after their first studio album. I guess I am faulty by having read too much British press at the time…whereas I got a better balance subsequently while perusing the internet. In musical trends, one generally goes from US grunge to Britpop whilst actually there were many interesting and original bands doing their own thing. Better late than never as they say so here are two reviews for the price of one of one of the best and singular band of our times.

  • Discography: the studio LP’s

 Telephono (1996): Always weird to discover old albums of favourite bands and quite difficult to be objective and not think about what would go next. This is not the case with bands such as Radiohead for instance as I bought their first album the week it went out and I can judge each record by its merit. Anyway, Telephono is a very solid debut album albeit lacking a bit of singularity. Quite influenced by bands such as Pixies or Pavement, this album is made out of punchy and short songs. One could already feel the excellence of Jim Eno on the drums but Britt Daniel’s voice is not as precise as it is now. Best tracks: “Don’t Buy the Realistic“, “All The Negatives Have Been Destroyed” and “Towner“. Rating: 7/10

 A Series Of Sneaks (1998): Not as rough as the first album but not as great and polished as the masterpieces to come, this album deserves to be discovered and listened to with fresh ears. One could very much feel the influences of the 90’s US rock sound on a few songs whereas a few other ones are really singular and could have been written anytime in the 60’s, 90’s or today. A testimony of a band growing up with grace. Best tracks: “The Minor Tough“, “Metal Detektor” and “No You’re Not“. Rating: 7.5/10

Girls Can Tell (2001): Thee years without a new album may appear a long time for a young band but this lapse of time was explained first by being on a new label and also by the release of the excellent “Love Ways” EP in 2000. If such a thing exists, this is the album where the band really found their identities and the “Spoon sound”. By this, I mean getting away from the Pixies / Pavement influences and getting closer to the skeletal drums and guitar sound which makes the band immediately familiar. Not great yet…but getting closer to it. Best tracks: “Everything Hits At Once“, “Lines In The Suit” and “This Book Is A Movie“. Rating: 8/10

 Kill The Moonlight (2002): The energy was there and now Spoon were getting closer and closer to their sound. This album is probably even more interesting in that sense compared to the previous one although I found the songs not as memorable. Typically the kind of records one would describe as transitional, which means very often that it is full of hidden treasures. Best tracks: “The Way We Get By“, “Stay Don’t Go” and “Don’t Let It Get You Down“. Rating: 7.5/10

 Gimme Fiction (2005): The first true great record by Spoon and very often considered as their best by a portion of their fans and the press. Not so much the case here although I must admit this album being amongst their best. This is really the time when the band finally achieved all their potentials by mixing guitar oriented rock with soul influences and once again this skeletal mood difficult to describe but which is really their own. Good to note as well that this is the start of a series of albums beginning with an amazing track. Best tracks: “The Beast and Dragon, Adored“, “My Mathematical Mind” and “I Summon You“. Rating: 8.5/10

 Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007): This is a very special album for this blog as I entered Spoon’s world through this amazing album. It remains for me Spoon’s masterpiece and one of the few fantastic albums in rock music where every track you listen to seems to be better than the previous one. I am torn between recommending this album directly to anyone not knowing Spoon or having them listen to this album later but at one stage in your life you should discover this album. Best tracks: “Don’t Make Me A Target“, “The Ghost Of You Lingers” and “The Underdog“. Rating: 10/10

 Transference (2010): Spoon were probably in an ideal position in 2010 as they were starting to reach a bigger audience while keeping their more indie rock fan base. As they had built their career with a step by step approach, their new record was again a balance between keeping their sound and experimenting. This made Transference another gorgeous album which was almost as good as their previous masterpiece…and finished in this blog’s end of the year Top 3! Nice William Eggleston cover as well. Best tracks: “Written In Reverse“, “I Saw The Light” and “Got Nuffin“. Rating: 9.5/10

 They Want My Soul (2014): A kind of weird record as the band seem harsher and more independent than ever in their words while being probably a bit less inventive than previously. All this is relative really as this is an excellent record full of inventive pop songs. Britt Daniel’s voice keeps on getting better and better as well. Best tracks: “Rent I Pay“, “Do You” and “I Just Don’t Understand“. Rating:  8.5 /10

 Hot Toughts (2017): …and here we end our provisory 21-year journey until Spoon latest LP, which was our LP of the month in March of that year. One of their best albums so far and to me probably their best song ever with “Hot Thoughts“. Interesting to notice also the presence of a weird keyboards and saxophone track at the end of the album, proving if need be that this band is here to stay and ready to innovate. Best tracks: “Hot Thoughts“, “I Ain’t The One” and “Tear It Down“. Rating: 9/10

 

  • Concert Review: Kentish Town Forum, 30th June 2017

Spoon, London, June 2017

So indeed great expectations from this gig as you may guess, knowing that the band have indeed more and more followers, a bit like R.E.M. had in the past before becoming massive. Held in the nice Kentish Town area and in the excellent Forum theatre, I found the band even better that my first gig in 2014 at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

It goes certainly without saying but when one is in a position to live from what they like to do, without any financial stress and a solid critic and fan base, one is necessarily in a better position regarding creativity within a nice context of achievement. This is really what I felt by watching Spoon. You can feel a sense of completeness from the band in their music but also on the fact that they know they have an audience ready to follow them through their musical ventures.

It is indeed a sort of paradox but to me the band have never been so pop and arty simultaneously in their music. Britt Daniel is definitely reaching his potential in being a singer and a leader while the band is excelling in all styles, with a particular mention as always to the great drumming of Jim Eno.

The setlist was really cool and well balanced. I will show to the world my Nick Hornby side below as I associated tracks with albums:

  • Telephono and A Series Of Sneaks: none
  • Girls Can Tell: 1 song (“Anything You Want”)
  • Kill The Moonlight: 1 song (“Stay Don’t Go”)
  • Gimme Fiction: 3 songs (“I Turn My Camera On”, “My Mathematical Mind” and “I Summon You”)
  • Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga: 4 songs (“Don’t You Evah“, “Don’t Make Me A Target”, “The Underdog” and “Black Like Me”)
  • Transference: 1 song (“Got Nuffin”)
  • They Want My Soul: 4 songs (“Inside Out”, “Rent I Pay”, “Do You” and “Rainy Taxi”)
  • Hot Thoughts: 4 songs (“Do I Have To Talk You Into It”, “Can I Sit Next To You”, “I Ain’t The One” and “Hot Thoughts”)