now the lightbulb’s gone off

Absolutely no one will be surprised that Spoon put out another fantastic album. No one. So we’ll just get that out of the way right now: the album is great, go listen to it now, please. Now, a bit more analysis for those who are interested in more than the bottom line.

Where Spoon’s last release, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, was ebullient with its horns and straight-up soul, Transference is stifled and intimate and doesn’t show its hand. Opening track “Before Destruction” is almost more of an impression than a song proper, piquing the listener’s curiosity as to where the album is going. The album fleshes out with hypnotic basslines and dance-ready drums, with ebbing guitar and relaxed vocals giving the songs shape.

The album blends both dug-in-the-ground, shit-kicking, Austin pride (“Written in Reverse”, “Trouble”) with outside influences like the harnessed energy of the early-90s alt-rock charts (“Got Nuffin”) and Duran Duran, if they’d been darker club kids instead of Miami Vice extras (“Nobody Gets Me But You”). Though these things may seem disparate, they all come together for a remarkably coherent release.

Transference dropped 01/19/10.
Listen to the album here.

i am hidden in plain sight

As it turns out, the west is not broken. On sophomore release Now or Heaven, LA’s The Broken West offer up a highly polished mix of rock and pop. Though not audio gold, it’s a solid album that draws on sounds from the last twenty years.

Sounds similar to those of Spoon and Something for Kate dominate the first section of the album. “Elm City” carries the percussion of a rainy, late-night autumn walk, strings and darkness brushing your cheek, while the quick drum beat and thudding left-hand piano on “Auctioneer” proves itself an excellent single.

The latter half of the album is more 80s dominated, but not with the angular, artificial sound that usually jumps to mind with the term. Swagger, plunking piano, and fuzzy guitar reverb marks “House of Lies”. Closer “Embassy Row” has a slinkiness to it, and on “Terror For Two” one could almost mistake the vocalist for Jarvis Cocker.

Unfortunately, Now or Heaven suffers one major misstep with “Got It Bad”. The minimal bass, synth, and echo on the tune is Prince-influenced, but comes nowhere near even reaching an homage. The track is superfluous and probably should have been cut from the album or at the very least included in the form of a  bonus track.

Now or Heaven drops 09/09/08.
For more on The Broken West, check out their MySpace page.
Click on the player below to listen to “Auctioneer”.