Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gimme Patience

So I'm on the subway coming home tonight, too tired to read my book, because it's one of those books that you really have to give your full attention to in order to read - it's all about the prose, so if you're too tired to take it in, there's really no sense in wasting good writing on tired eyes. And since my PSP got jacked, it looked like I was just gonna sit there (unacceptable) or bust out the ipod. Tonight's ride was a reunion with Spoon.

The thing I love about Spoon is that they are one of the few indie bands who can really rock at almost any tempo. Yeah, there are many out there like Okkervil River, The Wrens, or Band of Horses (just to name a few) who kick ass on their rocking songs, but who's slower or mid-tempo songs sound just like, well - slower or mid-tempo songs. It's not a slight, I love all of those bands, but the thing about Spoon is when they do it - their songs still sound so full and solid. No more so than on their last album - Gimme Fiction

Maybe it's their sense of space. They craft such spare parts for each instrument and just fit the songs together like little puzzles - each one usually based around a fairly simple rhythm or riff. I guess it all adds up to a sound where each note sounds so deliberate that it really adds a weight to it that is so often lacking in most indie rock. [The White Stripes have it, too, but right now we're talking about Spoon. Damn!]

Each previous Spoon album has been completely self-contained, creating it's own world, and Gimme Fiction is no exception. This one took a step back from the frenetic, largely piano-centered album Kill The Moonlight (amazing), and has a far more layered and subtle approach. On first listen, I didn't really care for it. And I wanted to. I'd loved all of their other records - and I had my hopes up. Obviously, I liked the immediate standout tracks ("I Turn My Camera On", "Two Sides of Monsieur Valentin", and "Sister Jack") but that was about it. I was prepared to dismiss it as a dud and leave it on the pile of albums that never quite make the cut (a huge pile). But for some reason it never made it out of the disc changer.

I'm glad for that. Slowly, after many times keeping the album on in the background, while doing other things, the other songs snuck up on me and began to reveal themselves. It was a wonderful thing. There's no better feeling than hearing a song like "My Mathematical Mind" or "The Beast and Dragon Adored" which at first sound repetitive and droney - and finally feeling like it makes sense. [I'm sure these songs worked for other people right away - in fact, when the album came out people couldn't get over My Mathematical Mind - everyone thought it was the masterpiece of the album!]

The thing that was missing, I think, was patience. On my part. Nowadays, most of the music I buy is through iTunes - I rarely buy actual CD's anymore. And while this may be a vastly more efficient manner in which to take in music I have found it to be infinitely less satisfying. Digital purchases are much easier to neglect (especially when you have a large collection) than a disc whose case (and cool artwork) is sitting on your desk, refusing to be put away (I prefer that explanation to my girlfriend's, who will try to tell you that I refuse to put it away). A case that you have to keep looking at will remind you to give it another chance. It will tempt you with the songs you know you like and win you over with the songs you don't.

For some reason, I was feeling a bit more patient tonight. It felt nice. It reminded me of a year ago, when Gimme Fiction came out. When I couldn't get "Sister Jack" out of my head. [And what great lyrics that song has - so Beatles-y...] When I could put on a CD without iTunes, before I felt the need to constantly keep my music on "shuffle" because my attention span was longer than four minutes.

Sometimes all it takes is a night where you're too tired to read to bring it all back.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also like Spoon. I kinda stopped listening to their album when I went to their concert this year (in Toronto). I Summon You is a great song. but I must say, I love Everything Hits at Once in Girls Can Tell (what a great name for an album and song!).

4:36 PM


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