Tag Archives: Fat Possum

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”

Spiritualized, Hey Jane

Video: Spiritualized – “Little Girl”

Spiritualized - "Little Girl" (Official Video)

Tennis – Young And Old

TennisYoung & Old (Fat Possum)

Teaming up with the Black Keys’ Patrick Riley in a real Nashville studio, Tennis returns with a sophomore release that retains Cape Dory’s time machine rust while opening up the fidelity a bit to give the band — now a three piece with the inclusion of drummer James Barone — more depth, warmth, and a better window on Alaina Moore’s impressive vocals.

But what’s even more impressive is how the band, in less than a year’s time, has managed to deliver another 10 track record of consistently good dream pop, hinting that the debut was far from a fluke.

Moore alternates from Northern Soul to good ol’ Brill Building charm in such an underhanded way that it’s easy to overlook how uniquely good her talents are. Producer Riley wisely un-clutters her performance by scaling back on the reverb while leaving plenty of old-school vocal distortion, harking back to a time when the power of the human voice could still manage to show the inadequacies of the engineering staff.

Anyone looking for revelation within Young & Old is missing the point. It presents itself as a pop record as learned through transistor radios, forgoing the nautical themes of Cape Dory for an unpretentious attempt at making a straight-forward gem built from our everyday surroundings.

That means lots of introspection from a husband and wife duo that are starting to notice that the honeymoon is over, and that romance has been replaced by a harsh reality that their combined efforts are now a career endeavor.

There are moments of confounding lyrics, but then again, what pop record isn’t littered with freshman poetry or, even worse, middle school texting. Personally, I find a lot more things relatable to this married couple and respond a lot quicker when their life is packaged in this spontaneous and charming dream pop bundle.

Young & Old is the perfect pop record for suburban adults who want to recall the days of their downtown lofts.

MP3: Tennis – “Origins” (via KCRW)

Wavves – King Of The Beach

Wavves - King Of The BeachWavvesKing Of The Beach (Fat Possum)

Nathan Williams’ erratic behavior at last year’s Primavera Sound Festival sure looked like the crash landing of yet another internet darling, ending Wavves‘ ascension almost quickly as it began. Primavera was the type of event that reeked of another example of what happens when we put notoriety before talent. It was perfect ammunition for the cynics, dutifully pointing out how the internet scenemakers are just as awful at picking tomorrow’s talent as the dumbasses at major labels.

Wavves’ frontman, Nathan Williams—the Einstein who thought that combining ecstasy, Xanax, and Valium before performing in front of a bunch of paying customers would be a good thing—sounds like he’s put down the drugs long enough to deliver on all that promise and hype.

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Photos: Adam Green Live in Sheffield

Adam Green Live in Sheffield

Adam Green at Sheffield Academy

Sheffield, England, July 12, 2010

One of three UK dates this summer on his European Tour, Adam Green started the gig tentatively, announcing he was nursing a foot injury. It did not take long for him to forget about this as the adrenalin took over and he was his normal self interacting with the audience, crowd surfing (much to the disdain of the security), and leaving the stage to sing along from the floor.

The 75 minute set kept the crowd mesmerised. With Adam Green it is never dull. His new album, Minor Love, is his strongest to date, and we’re all looking forward to him returning to the UK in 2011.

Continue reading Photos: Adam Green Live in Sheffield

New video from Jon Spencer’s Heavy Trash: Gentle

Video: Heavy Trash – “(Sometimes You Gotta Be) Gentle”

This is more like it. That “doo wop” MP3 they gave away wasn’t really all that, but “Gentle” has everything we’ve always loved about Jon Spencer. Watch him and Matt Verta-Ray do their thang in this new video directed by Michael Lavine. On the road, Lambchop‘s Sam Baker plays drums, but Spencer himself does his best Meg White impression in the video. Evolution is too slow! From Midnight Soul Serenade, out now on Fat Possum.

Heavy Trash: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki, MySpace.

Continue reading New video from Jon Spencer’s Heavy Trash: Gentle

Heavy Trash – Gee, I Really Love You

Heavy Trash

MP3: Heavy Trash – “Gee, I Really Love You” from Midnight Soul Serenade, out October 27 on Fat Possum.

While Jon Spencer‘s latest band hasn’t received as much press as his Blues Explosion, they’re still making good music. Their previous album, 2007’s Going Way Out with Heavy Trash, was one of my favorites of the year. Leaving behind most of the blues and punk pastiche, Heavy Trash looks to rockabilly and other early forms of rock and roll for inspiration. I haven’t heard the new album, but this single sounds a lot cornier than their prior stuff. Hoping the rest of the album is better.

Via Spinner.

Heavy Trash: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki, web.

Andrew Bird – Oh No

MP3: Andrew Bird – “Oh No” from Noble Beast, out now on Fat Possum.

This song features all the things you love about Andrew Bird: whistling, nerdy smart lyrics, violin, plus hand claps. What more could you want? The album is a bit of a sleeper, but repeated listenings will reveal more and more.

Andrew Bird: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki/

Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond

Dinosaur Jr - BeyondDinosaur Jr.Beyond (Fat Possum)

When J. Mascis released More Light (with The Fog) back in 2000, I went to one of my favorite local record stores to pick it up. The owner of the store (who started it with, literally, a crate of records back in 1982) noticed me as a regular and offered to assist me in his quest to capture as much cash out of my wallet as he could. When I asked him if he had the new J. Mascis record, he sheepishly admitted that he didn’t, sadly hinting at my out-of-touchness by saying “We don’t have that much demand for Dinosaur Jr. anymore.”

So not only did I feel downright old, it troubled me that the youth of America seemed to have abandoned one of the forefathers of ear-damaging guitar rock. Sure enough: the store’s used bin was littered with the various titles of Dinosaur Jr.’s spotty 90s output, the same ones that I can admit to owning while also admitting that I understood how J. slowly fell from his Marshall stack throne.

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