Ahhh, gotta love spring time. Weather starts to heat up, flowers start to bloom, patios for daytime binge drinking finally open – the dog days of winter are OVER people! And of course, the annual tradition like no other… No, not the Masters, I’m talking about the Lollapalooza lineup announcement that occurs mid-March every year. My fellow Chicagoans can attest- this is a big deal for us. After the lineup drops, a variety of the usual comments ensue : who’s seen who before, what time conflicts there could be between acts, and just the general “I’m so excited for ________” conversations. This magical day happened a few weeks ago, and the usual discussions took place amongst my friends. This summer’s lineup is among the best I’ve seen of any festival taking place this summer, with a glowing list of big-time headliners and compelling up-and-comers from all genres. However, nestled in the middle the list (which is organized by prominence) was the artist who caught my eye the most. No, not the “Black Beatles” Rae Srummond, or suburban folk-rock heroes The Head and the Heart, but rather the most underrated and consistently high-quality band in all the land, which of course, is Spoon.
Spoon’s newest album Hot Thoughts dropped last month, to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Title track and lead single “Hot Thoughts” has been making the rounds on radio stations across the globe as well, and currently sits atop the Billboard Adult Alternative charts. And this, really, should be surprising to nobody. Since the group’s formation nearly three decades ago, a basic expectation has been established that the group will drop an amazing album every two-three years like clockwork. Their albums are frequently ranked on “Top Album of the Year/Decade/All-Time” lists, including publications such as Pitchfork, Blender, and Rolling Stone. I know most have heard of the band, probably even know a song or two, but somehow Spoon still lingers largely under-the-radar in the grand scheme. How is that so?
Lead singer/guitarist Brit Daniel and drummer Jim Eno formed the band in wonderful Austin, TX in 1993. Inspired by other independent acts of the time period, Spoon spent the 1990s defining their own sound and finding a permanent home on a record label. After being picked up and swiftly dropped by major label Elektra Records, Spoon continued honing their craft in the Lone-Star State before their fourth album Kill the Moonlight launched them into the national music scene, with lead single “Way We Get By” being featured in the hit show The O.C. in 2002 (doesn’t ’02 seem like yesterday?). The follow up album Gimme Fiction was also a hit, and sixth album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga brought audiences the equally-notable “The Underdog” and cemented Spoon’s place in the upper-echelon of modern rock music.
To call Spoon prolific would be an understatement, the band has released nine stellar albums and will not go more than a couple years without something new. Daniel, always the experimenter, has a way of creating a different feel to each album. But every output has the same essential Spoon-stylings: minimalist grooves, catchy lyrics and solid musicianship. The latest release, Hot Thoughts, is probably the most “out-there” album to date, featuring a host of non-traditional instruments and arrangements. Spoon is often labeled as an “indie rock” group, but that moniker can be misleading. Spoon records don’t possess the same quirkiness and tiresome desire-to-be-different that drives a healthy chunk of indie bands these days. And while each album has its own shtick, they don’t really follow current trends in music either. Spoon is, quite simply, just a solid rock band. No glitz, glamour, or bullshit. Daniel and the gang have done things the right way – building a loyal audience through years of grassroots touring and critically-acclaimed albums. Overshadowed and underappreciated by the masses? Definitely. But Spoon doesn’t mind, they will keep pumping out quality tunes and collecting those juicy Dr. Pepper commercial checks. If you know the band but don’t know the band, I urge you to dive deeper. I’ll be there to see their fourth Lollapalooza appearance this summer, see you all there!
Suggested Tracks: “I Turn My Camera On” “Don’t You Evah” “Hot Thoughts” “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”
Photo Credits: The Portland Press Herald,