LIVE REVIEW: Spoon

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Spoon + Mike Noga @ Metro Theatre

Sydney, Australia, March 23rd, 2017

Mike Noga has stepped things up and fleshed out his live show with a full band that at times featured a triple guitar approach. The transition from solo performer to band leader mean he’s lost a bit of that Dylan-esque raconteur vibe but one can see where he’s taking it – giving the songs from his 2016 album King a wider palette and greater dynamics. It also allowed him to focus more on singing and imbuing his performance with greater physicality. A bass amp problem threatened to derail things but the band adapted and recovered well.

Spoon had the Metro at near capacity as they sauntered onstage and went straight to songs from the new album Hot Thoughts. The title track and Do I Have To Talk You Into It welcomed a stronger focus on keyboards but also showed how well the band have brought them to the fore in their songs without any great change to the Spoon sound. Space is the key to what Britt Daniels and band do so well. The rhythm section of Jim Eno and Rob Pope are its backbone, whether that was a fractured and (dare I say) funky approach or near-Krautrock/post-punk, dark and driving grooves as the guitars chopped and tangled with retro synth sounds.

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Spoon are astute rock deconstructionists, there wasn’t a guitar solo to be found all night, instead it was all about texture and accents, a sort of musical equivalent to pop-art collage if you will. They’re clearly enjoying playing together as a band, jovial and knowing smiles were exchanged regularly, fingers were pointed in recognition of each other’s playing and they found that sweet spot between locking the songs in tight and still sounding free-flowing and completely organic.

Highlights came in the form of a rousing I Saw The Light, the pulsing shimmer and grind of WhisperI’lllistentohearit and I Turn My Camera On, with the crowd fully engaged in a united front of bobbing heads and sung words. Though the second half of the set lost some of the initial rush of energy and conviviality that hung in the air for the first half, they carried it home like returning heroes of the alt-pop variety.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You

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Spoon (Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, bassist Rob Pope and Alex Fischel on keyboards and guitar) are releasing their new LP Hot Thoughts on March 17th via Matador Records/Remote Control Records. They’ve already released the first single and now they’ve posted the warped and spooky clip for the keyboard-heavy clip for ‘Can I Sit Next To You’, reminiscent to our ears of The Cure and Prince in the clipped rhythm.

Spoon – Sydney & Melbourne Headline Shows

Thursday 23rd March – Metro Theatre, Sydney

Saturday 25th March – Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne

ds…twenty five – our favourite releases of 2010

That’s it then, 2010 done and dusted and although it wasn’t the best year ever for new music there were some damn fine records released. This year we’re seeing an even more eclectic mix of flavours coming through from witch house, minimal electronica, americana, experimental and the all encompassing indie tag. Have a look at what we loved through the year, click on the covers for linked reviews and please leave comments and let us know your faves…

2010 has also been another stellar year for reissues, remasters and deluxe versions and honourable mentions must go to:

  • David Bowie | Station To Station
  • The Rolling Stones | Exile On Main Street
  • Iggy Pop & James Williamson | KIll City
  • Dexys Midnight Runners | Searching For The Lost Soul Rebels
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood | Welcome To The Pleasuredome
  • The Cure | Disintegration

25. Spoon | Transference

24. Liars | Sisterworld

23. Wavves | KIng Of The Beach

22. Surf City | Kudos

21. Simon Carter | The Black Book Of The Universe

20. Mount Kimbie | Crooks & Lovers

19. James Blake | Klavierwerke EP

18. Forest Swords | Dagger Paths EP

17. Jeremy Jay | Splash

16. Mark Moldre | The Waiting Room

15. Damien Jurado | Saint Bartlett

14. Deerhunter | Halcyon Digest

13. Gayngs | Relayted

12. Zola Jesus | Stridulum II

11. Wooden Shjips | Vol. 2

10. CocoRosie | Grey Oceans

9. Yeasayer | Odd Blood

8. The Black Keys | Brother

7. Tame Impala | Innerspeaker

6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti | Before Today

5. Best Coast | Crazy For You

4. Beach House | Teen Dream

3. Die! Die! Die! | Form

2. The Soft Pack | The Soft Pack

1. Arcade Fire | The Suburbs

INTERVIEW: SPOON

written by Chris Familton

Spoon have been one of the most consistent bands over the last decade with each release slowly growing their audience and receiving greater acclaim from critics. Ahead of their tour of Australia, Spoon’s multi-instrumentalist Eric Harvey called in to chat about their latest album Transference – how it was written, recorded and where it fits into Spoon.

Transference comes as Spoon have well and truly settled into a definitive sound. Theirs is drenched in minimalist sound and instrumental clarity. It slips effortlessly from indie to power pop, post punk to 60s beat. Harvey is quick to explain that the new album wasn’t part of some masterplan or pre-conceived concept.

“I don’t think as a band we ever discussed how the album would sound as a whole. I’m sure Britt [Daniel] thinks about this stuff but when it comes the band working on it together we never sat down and said we were going to make this one rawer, we just worked on it on a song by song basis and what the individual song called for,” Harvey says. Some of the songs on Transference had a stranger edge to them. We wanted them to sound a little darker and a little more stripped down,” he explains.

Look back to when they were first written, there seems to be a variety of ways that the songs germinated and emerged into the world.

“It happens on a song by song basis, Some song we hash out our individual parts at our practice space. We play the song and work out our parts individually until we have it and then we go and record it, mostly live. With other songs that are collaged together there are certain songs that Britt does everything on, maybe just a drum machine, acoustic guitar, vocals and sound effects and Britt does it all at home. We don’t really have any rules about how songs are put together, it just depends what the song calls for,” says Harvey, before adding, “This album happened in different places at different times which maybe gives it that more fractured sound having all these different elements from different times coming together.”

The reduction of Spoon’s sound to its key, essential ingredients is a crucial reason for their success and why their melodies, both vocally and instrumentally, shine through so effectively.

“At this point it feels natural. That was a way of working that I learnt when I joined the band about five years ago. I understood it but it is definitely something that you have to think about. It becomes less of an emotional response and more of an intellectual one. In order to make songs like this you sometimes you have to sit down and make sacrifices – some things that may have felt really good to play or may sound really good, they just aren’t really adding to the song and have to be edited out. Editing is where a lot of our sound comes from,” confesses Harvey.

“When we do these songs live things change a little bit. We’re looking for ways to make things more dramatic or dynamic in a live situation that maybe isn’t as important for the record. The songs are born in the practice space of the studio and when we go out and play them for people they take on a new life. Sometimes they are really close to the record and sometimes they’re quite a bit different, Harvey says.

Have Spoon perfected their sound and hit upon their definitive aural template? Listening to their last few records that could be an easily made assumption but Harvey believes they are still searching for new elements to enhance their Spoonerisms.

“We’re always looking for new sounds. For me – who’s responsible for a lot of sounds – I’m always looking for new ones. There’s a certain palette of classic sounds for guitars and pianos that come to us from bands from the last 60 years but we are also looking for things that we haven’t heard before. That’s what is fun for us – we are balancing the sounds that are familiar and classic and the new sounds that are far out and make you feel like you are breaking new ground. That means that I have no idea what the next record will sound like,” laughs Harvey.

Transference contains some classic Spoon songs that tap into that part of our brain built on memories. By definition, transference is a phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another, specifically linked to one’s childhood. Similarly, Spoon’s music dials into many primal emotions via their use of melody, groove and repetition and maybe that is a key to their success – they remind us of something in the past, a strange familiarity.

This interview first appeared on The Dwarf