Tag Archives: Spiritualized

Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light

SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light (Fat Possum)

Within the first measures of Spiritualized’s eighth album, head Spaceman Jason Pierce continues his journey away from the minimalist leanings that he’s examined for the last pair of records, and back to the orchestrated grandeur of his revered back catalog.

While all of that may sound like a reprise of his past–which it most definitely is–what’s completely unexpected is the perfect balance that Pierce and company find between the grand stage and two-bedroom apartment. The one where the second bedroom houses all of the pawnshop gear and magnetic tape instead of a rent-contributing roommate.

A Theremin enters into the mix about thirty seconds into Sweet Heart Sweet Light, signaling that after nearly ten years of stripping down the mix, Pierce seems like fashioning up something big for this release. By the end of the record, even the traces of a musical saw seem perfectly fitting and admirably well thought out.

It’s not only one of the best albums you’ll hear all year, it ranks as one of the best in Pierce’s already impressive catalog. Entering his third decade in rock music, Pierce has packed Sweet Heart Sweet Light with beautifully simple arrangements with a sharper bite to his lyrics, some that see a somewhat compelling return to the misery that his distinctive monotone voice can wrap itself around so organically.

By the end of “Hey Jane,” the first song on the eleven track release, the band has already delivered a late career utter masterpiece of a song, complete with an inspired “Hey Jude” coda that gives the album its title.

He’s lifting a bit from his Spacemen 3 past on “Get What You Deserve,” but then, about four minutes into the track, the stereo begins to separate into a wider channel, leaving the main vocal track barking up the middle. By the fifth minute, everything is overcome with guitar distortion and vintage effect pedals while beautiful strings surround the outer ear.

By the end of the song, you’ve forgotten all about the clever allusions to the Spaceman’s past and begin caring about what is in store for us next in his future.

Quite simply, it’s a perfect blend of Pierce’s roots and the unbridled ambition of his revered late 90’s period.

When you get to “I Am What I Am,” with its Sunday go to meetin’ gospel chorus bouncing over Pierce’s deadpanned delivery, it becomes clear that there really isn’t a dud to be found on Sweet Heart Sweet Light. There’s just plenty of additional evidence what some of us have considered for some time now: that Jason Pierce is one the genre’s most vital contributors and to be able to continue to release records like this-clearly equipped for greatness and longevity-then we owe it to him to acknowledge how sweet it is to still have him around.

Video: Spiritualized – “Hey Jane”

Video: Spiritualized – “Little Girl”

Spiritualized – Songs In A & E

Spiritualized - Songs In A + ESpiritualizedSongs In A & E (Fontana)

When creating Spiritualized‘s seventh album, Jason Pierce had the ungodly task of not only resurrecting the band’s career, but his own life as well. Much has been made of Pierce’s close collision with death (a bout of pneumonia nearly killed him) but little has been mentioned that the band seemed destined for the grave even before his trip to the hospital. From my perspective, the last album (Amazing Grace) seemed like Pierce had exhausted all of his great ideas with the ginormously-orchestrated masterpiece Let It Come Down. He called Amazing Grace the band’s attempt to return to sparsely populated areas, but Pierce failed to back up that open range with memorable material. The result felt like an attempt to remind listeners of the direct lineage between the bare bones output of bands like the White Stripes and the Black Keys and Pierce’s old band, Spacemen 3.

Trouble is, most of us knew that already, and what made Spiritualized so great was the idea that the guy who started his career by playing one chord repeatedly for forty-five minutes was now, literally, composing hugely ornate arrangements and taking an accidental genius and turning into an artist with a clear aptitude for greatness.

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Notes from the Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music FestivalPitchfork Music Festival

Chicago, July 18-20, 2008

So I’m standing around early on Friday night while Mission of Burma rips through Vs., and out of the backstage VIP area walks this short guy wearing a giant Professor Griff t-shirt. You know those tribute shirts where the whole shirt is a picture of Biggie‘s face? Like that, but with a picture of Public Enemy‘s alleged anti-Semite, Professor Griff.

It takes me a moment to realize this guy is, of course, Professor Griff. He’s walking around the crowd before his set, begging to be noticed. And this weird moment of awesome bravado and icky self-promotion is a pretty fair metaphor for the entire P-Fork Fest.

This yearly congregation of college radio nerds, fashion victims, art students, burnouts, baristas, and meatheads in Chicago’s Union Park is getting bigger and bigger. With an overstuffed line-up of hipster favorites and a smart, well-ordered setup, this is still the best-run festival in America. But it wasn’t without headaches, creeping corporate sponsorship, and a shit-ton of humidity.

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Pitchfork Music Festival 2008: Photos

MuddyThe Pitchfork Music Fest was doused in rain this year. But that didn’t keep GLONO photographer Alan M. Paterson from getting his feet muddy in order to get some good shots.

We’ll feature more coverage of the bands over the next few days, but for now you can feel like you were there by looking at the following photos…

Update: Day One; Days 2-3.

Dirty

See the photos after the jump…

Continue reading Pitchfork Music Festival 2008: Photos

Spiritualized – Amazing Grace ®

Spiritualized Amazing Grace ® (Sanctuary Records)

The greatest art is born through conflict. The conflicts of Jason Pierce are well documented through the writings of others as well as his own—listen to the lyrics on his 2001 masterpiece Let it Come Down and you can’t help but surrender to the gravity of lines like “If Jesus is the straight path that saves / Then I’m condemned to live my whole life on the curve / On the cross roads with the devil / I’ll dwell and I’ll count my years.” The man has, for years, struggled with drugs and with the burden of God—knowing that his way isn’t the right way, yet constantly falling into the same traps, taking the same pills or smoking the same bags. Let it Come Down was a remarkable album not only in its lyrics, but also its performances—Pierce’s inflection and timbre lent the songs the vulnerability that the words could only half-approach. Also enlisted was a gospel choir and orchestra, some of the songs turning into hymns—the explosive chorus of “Stop Your Crying,” for example—which really set the tone for the album. It was a change for Pierce, who with his earlier work in Spiritualized and also its predecessor Spacemen 3, specialized in a spacey, acid-rock/jazz sound—almost a victory by the drugs in the battle for Pierce’s mind.

Amazing Grace has been circulating for months on the internet and has just recently been officially released, and a few dissimilarities are noticeable immediately—the songs are much shorter, the choir mostly removed—inspiration enough for the NME, those fucking idiots, to claim that Spiritualized had recorded a “garage album,” but Amazing Grace is nothing like a faux-revival. This record is raw and pained, biting and brilliant. If Let it Come Down was a coming to grips with his problems, Amazing Grace is one final fight—the inspiration of new parenthood awaking Pierce to new realizations—to get his shit straight and his head up.

Thematically, nothing has changed—evidenced by song titles like “Lay it Down Slow,” “Lord Let it Rain on Me,” and “The Power and the Glory.” The lyrics still reflect the same struggles, yet things seem like they’re starting to turn around. “Hold On” is particularly inspiring, words like “Death cannot part us / If life already has / Hold on to those you hold dear.” You can’t help but wonder whether or not Pierce is advising us based on past experiences.

Musically, there is a slight return to the sound of his earlier work, and also to the soothing melodies and introspective nature of Let it Come Down. The album opens with two tracks, “This Little Life of Mine” and “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like a Hit),” that sound as if Pierce has fostered a new addiction to distortion pedals. Things are cooled off at track three with “Hold On” and “Oh Baby,” and the rest of the album falls somewhere in between.

While nothing tops the epic that Let it Come Down has become, Amazing Grace is perfect for someone perhaps just being introduced to the vast history and discography of Spiritualized/Spacemen 3. It’s the perfect jumping off point, intriguing enough to require further listening, but never getting too deep either.

For those of us already enthralled with the life of Jason Pierce, this isn’t anything profound or new. But it still strikes a chord. Holy shit, does it strike a chord.