Night Music: Spoon, “Eddie’s Ragga”

Spoon has a new record coming out in August, and today a song escaped or was pushed, called The Rent I Pay. It’s okay, a thumping beat and some layers of guitars and distortion, with lyrics I’m not obsessive enough to understand just yet.

Back in 2007 I bought Spoon’s rapturously reviewed album Ga Ga Ga Ga. Actually I downloaded the tracks from my music vendor of choice then, eMusic. So while I have the files, I don’t know the package, which I’m sure had a torturously tiny lyrics sheet. Which may be why I played the stuff a bunch of times and then it oozed back into the deep well that is my music library. I remember liking it well enough, but obviously not indelibly.

And from a couple of listens today to the Rent I Pay and a revisit to Ga Ga Ga Ga, I think the problem is obvious. These guys are, as everyone says, one of the best rock n roll bands of our times, but they’re not quite right. The tempo isn’t pushed forward enough, the songs don’t swing. The crunch is big, but echoes over a static landscape into which it curls up and dies. The problem of comparisons is that there aren’t that many rock bands these days, apart from the ones playing the oldies. Call that small pond syndrome.

And these guys aren’t young, like Fidlar. Spoon formed in 1993, in the heights of rock’s last gasp, Grunge.

Sorry to make this sound like such a drag, Spoon isn’t really that. But it doesn’t burst with excitement, the way the Black Keys sometimes do (or did, in their early days). This bit of white reggae is just fine, but it really makes me want to hear Dreadlock Holiday.

4 thoughts on “Night Music: Spoon, “Eddie’s Ragga”

    • That’s a good song and even more virtuous because I think it beats Oxford Comma in the race to make a single-shot no-edit music video full of camera movement, though I should probably look the timing up. And Scorcese did it to start Good Fellas, and Antonioni did it to end The Passenger, so it’s a neat trick. Brian DePalma tried it far too often to deserve credit for anything. Heck, even the opening of Citizen Kane is an improbable and impossible camera move that goes from outside to inside through a closed skylight. Good for ya.

      I was too harsh in my post, Spoon is fine, but I think the criticism overall stands (based on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, I don’t know the other records). This song has some good elements, but it kind of plods too, like its Brian Epstein-like producer, though the arrangement (and video). The mariachi horns help, and the chorus is good. It stutters, but it doesn’t swing.

      I like it well enough when I hear it. If it popped up in the end music of an episode of a TV show, say House, I would tap my toes. Especially if it was the story of an indie rocker who had travelled extensively in Cambodia and Thailand because that’s where rock lives these days, and he came down with a bout of syphilis that disguised itself as encephalitis. Or Creutzfeld-Jacob. And the only cure was, well, I’m not a doctor. But even so, I would not be satisfied, unless they played faster.

      I give Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga four of five Ga’s. It’s a focused mature classic rock record by a band without classic rock amplitude (look it up Steve). But I can understand why they have fans. And if it tickles your taste, which it mostly doesn’t for me except the Beatlesesque Black Like Me, be good with it.

  1. Didn’t know this band at all before this. Forgive my ignorance.

    Surely I’m belittling them, but the Peter song (never stops being funny to me) reminds me of a toned- and cheesed-down Smash Mouth. Not that I know anything about Smash Mouth that everyone on the planet doesn’t know.

    The Tom song is better and reminds me of Belle & Sebastian. And, yes, the video is cool.

    Right now I’m most interested in hearing the new Fucked Up, the new Off! and the new Jack White – in that order. But this Spoon stuff ain’t bad and it is rock and it ain’t disco, thank God. So it’s a good day.

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