They Want My Soul
Spoon is one of the best Rock bands of the last decade. Full of Indie Rock swagger with a front man in Britt Daniel that can stand cool to cool with Ryan Adams, Jack White, or Rhett Miller, Spoon is back after the longest hiatus of the career with an album that is 10 songs of almost perfectly symmetric Rock and Roll bliss with each note or turn of phrase placed in exactly the right place at just the right time.
There is a rolling cadence to “Outlier” that takes shoegaze to an exciting new level, and the opener “Rent I Pay” is an old-school Indie Rock song that should play wonderfully in their live shows. “Do You” is a gem of a pop song that features the entire band and their spot-on tight musicianship, while “Rainy Taxi is about as infectious and bouncy as you can get.
This band is one of those musical acts that is pretty much incapable of putting out a bad record, but safe to say that They Want My Soul will stand up right up there with their best, and teaming up with producer Dave Fridmann, known for his work with Sparklehorse, The Flaming Lips as well as others proved to be right choice at the right time creating an album that was definitely worth the wait.
Billy Joe Shaver
Long in the Tooth
Billy Joe Shaver is a living, breathing, country song. Having lived more lives than he can sing about, enduring the loss of his son, and his wife, and narrowly avoiding spending most of the rest of his life in prison after his acquittal on attempted murder charges in 2010, he is in many ways, too legit to quit.
Having virtually invented the Outlaw Country movement with his Waylon Jennings Honky Tonk Heroes collaboration, Billy Joe is pretty much the last man standing, and with his latest Long in the Tooth, he lays it down as only he can, open, honest, and raw. Whether he is sharing the stage with Willie Nelson where they sing that is hard to be an outlaw when your not wanted anymore, and both of finding them lamenting the fact the only friends that are left are beyond those swinging doors on “Hard to Be an Outlaw,” or he is ripping his heart from his heart from his sleeve, throwing it down on the saw dust floor, picking it up and presenting it to the listener like does on “Last Call for Alcohol,” everything is done with honesty and conviction.
This record could have been made in 1977 or 2017, it is that timeless. Billy Joe Shaver is at the top of his game, every song presented here is a masters course in the art of the song.
The Empty Hearts
From the opening track, “90 Miles an Hour Down a One Way Street” the blueprint is clear. Pure Power Pop with with the ear popping sounds you might have heard in the past from the likes of The Raspberries, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Box Tops, Big Star, Badfinger and even a touch of The Replacements.
It all make perfect sense, of course, once you know that this pure pop for now people is exquisitely and honestly made by a group of musicians that have been waving the Power Pop flag for more than 35 years within the framework of their own bands, and show no signs of letting up anytime soon. The stars of the show include Wally Palmer of The Romantics on lead vocal and rhythm guitar, Eliot Easton from The Cars on lead guitar, Andy Babiuk with The Chesterfield Kings slinging the bass, and Clem Burke of Blondie fame on drums. In other words members of five of your favorite bands have joined forces in the spirit of good times for the sole purpose of kicking some Rock and Roll ass.
And it works to perfect way-back perfection. The songs are fresh and vibrant, with each of the band members sounding like they are having the time of their lives. The record has a definite live feel to it, and the added presence of Faces member Ian McClagan on organ and keys on a couple of the tracks ramps up the coolness quotient to 11. If retro Rock is wrong, I don’t want to be right, and these guys are doing it better than we have heard in a very long time.