Monkey On a Wedding Cake by Keith Carter 1998. I choose this photo for its unique subject matter, which matches the band discussed in today’s post. You can find Carter’s work here.
When people think Texas Rock a general idea comes to mind of acoustic guitars complimenting rhythmic drums, fiddles, and a variety of rock guitar riffs. This style was Texas Rock. Today, a new indie wave of local bands have rushed the scene, and the best modern example of this new Indie Rock is Spoon. Headlined by singer/songwriter Britt Daniel, the band has truly exemplified the new sound of Texas with their first record from Loma Vista Recordings They Want My Soul. A Jekyll and Hyde mix of Texas twang and electronic beats produces an album filled with head bobbing music that will make any music lover smile and remind them of a southern Artic Monkeys (even if Spoon formed ten years earlier).
They Want My Soul from a musical standpoint is a medley of unique sounds. Part of the reason for the exceptional split in sounds is the fact two different producers assisted in creating the album. Working with Joe Chiccarelli for the first half of the recordings the band produced more indie sounding songs that hovered around the familiar sounds of the bands past.
Songs like ” Let Me Be Mine” and “They Want My Soul” do not say much lyrically. Often just finding a central theme and sticking to it. However, what they lack in lyrical insight the songs make up for in experimental instrumentals. The listener engages with the way the songs build and drop on a whim; teasing the ear and building expectations. Stand-out guitars and limited keyboard dominate the Chiccarelli songs that fit the bottom half of the album.
On the flip side, They Want My Soul has a first half produced by Dave Fridmann. Fridmann pushes the songs to their limit and occasionally overwhelms the viewer with musical melodies coming from every direction. Songs like “Knock Knock Knock” has a beautiful taste to them that almost feels like the soundtrack to a horror film that sneaks in the rhythms of a Western. “Inside Out” and “Rent I Pay” explore the emotional depths of Daniel’s life, while containing a juxtaposing sound that truly dictates the entire albums feel.
“Rent I Pay” is the traditional sound of an indie band. The drums never exit the comfort zone, and the bass gives it a little bit of taste so that the listener is never bored. The guitar then provides the catchy riffs that will have the listener tapping their foot along. Britt Daniel’s gritty voice then grinds throughout giving the southern taste to the album.
On the contrast, “Inside Out” comes in with a steady pop beat that gets built on by a keyboard then drums, till eventually the whole song is just one sweet melody to mellow out to. The instruments are never afraid to play around, though. As the song goes on the keyboard will often try a new riff or changing the beat. This idea works well throughout the album. It is as if the band is okay with not having the beat be perfect. Instead, the random excerpt of experimentation gives an artistic flair to the album.
They Want My Soul is a symbol highlighting the artistic nuance that is beginning to link from Texas Rock. Bands are no longer afraid to try new sounds and experiment. This album is perfect to listen to on a slow car ride across twisting roads of Texas in the Southern heat. The songs will relax the listener, and give them an escape from the normalcy they have come to expect. So if you are looking for the newest sound in southern rock, look no further than Spoon’s They Want My Soul.