Album Picks: Spoon, Roses, Spider Bags, Bear in Heaven

Posted by Billy Gil, August 5, 2014 09:00am | Post a Comment

Spoon - They Want My Soul (LP, CD)

Producer David Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) ends up being the perfect collaborator for Austin’s Spoon on their excellent eighth album. His unmistakable stamp helps the drums explode on rock stomper “Rent I Pay”; he augments the band’s lean indie funk-rock sound with harps and synths on the lovely “Inside Out”; and “Do You’s” loopy spaceiness helps make it the best Britpop song that never was, like late-era Blur on a country kick. Of course, none of the album’s majesty would be possible without the band itself, who co-produce (along with early producer Joe Chiccarelli) and write some of their catchiest tunes to date, and that’s saying something, given that this is the band responsible for earworms like “The Way We Get By.” The band stretches itself to the limits here without straying too far from its core appeal, as songs like the slinky, dark “Outlier” sound unlike anything in the band’s catalog but (pardon the pun) don’t stick out in a bad way. The melodies and arrangements are ace throughout, and frontman Britt Daniel becomes more versatile, engaging in a kind of beatnik singspeak on “Let Me Be Mine” while still unleashing those great, sandpapered pipes to their fullest potential on the chorus of “Do You.” It adds up to one of the best-ever releases from one of the solidest bands in indie rock, a total triumph and utterly welcome return. Spoon will be playing live at Amoeba Hollywood Wednesday Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.!


Roses - Dreamlover (LP, Download)

Roses pack a dramatic punch into their debut EP for Group Tightener. Starting off “Florence Girls,” the band layers shimmering synthesizers, New Order-inspired basslines, ex-Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velasquez’s brittle, crunching guitars, and Marc Steinberg’s David Byrne-esque vocals over a breezy, new wave drum machine beat. “The Fog” softens things up in a spacey ballad reminiscent of David Bowie’s early ’80s experimental pop. “Icicle” finds the band traversing through woozy new romantic waters, while highlight “It’s Over” introduces a stuttering beat and staccato vocals, while the band tears through a shiver-inducing, gorgeous arrangement. It’s just a taste of what’s to come, but Dreamlover already has us hungry for a lot more from Roses. Roses will play a Red Bull Sound Select show with Tanlines and SISU Aug. 20 at The Sayers Club, curated by Amoeba!


Spider Bags - Frozen Letter (Red Vinyl LP, CD)

Chapel Hill’s Spider Bags kick up some furious dust on their debut album for Merge. Songs like “Back With You Again in the World” deliver the best in rollicking, country-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, with Dan McGee’s world-weary voice promising “I’ll always be honest with you” amid raunchy saxophones like a man back from tour and ready to make amends. “Japanese Vacation” is delightfully childlike and catchy yet deceptively well-crafted—it’s hard to pull off a song with lyrics like “spider crawl against the wall” without sounding like The Wiggles, but McGee and co. pull it off with aplomb. McGee, of course, is no stranger to the garage scene—he’s formerly of New Jersey greats DC Snipers—so he knows his way around a rock riff and how to make the same ol’ sound special, like the way the “Chem Trails” lodges in your head and then expands into psychedelic colors. “Why you wanna be a Rolling Stone?” McGee asks in the snappy “Summer of ’79.” Probably because Spider Bags make it sound like so much damn fun! Don’t look to Spider Bags for anything too serious—druggy ballad “Coffin Car” is about as close as they get to something heavy, but even then, the song erupts in its final portion to a fist-pumping party song. We wouldn’t have it any other way; Frozen Letter ain’t nothin’ but a good time.


Bear in Heaven - Time Is Over One Day Old (LP, CD)

The Brooklyn-based electro-prog band returns with a solid fourth album that harkens back to their earlier material over 2012’s poppy I Love You, It’s Cool. I personally like them more in Talk Talk/Japan territory, as they are here. But Time Is Over One Day Old is far from a difficult listen; check out the rumbling “Time Between” for a taste.


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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Releases (214), Spoon (12), Roses (10), Spider Bags (1), Bear In Heaven (2)