Tag Archives: Spoon

Top 10 Albums of 2014

La Dispute

10. La Dispute, Rooms of the House

Emo may not be everyone’s genre of choice, but it’s hard to deny that La Dispute do it damn well. The songs on this interwoven album beautifully ruminate on personal loss and the ways that memories can linger. La Dispute brings intense, snarling vocals to their tales, but also surprisingly gorgeous melodies that made Rooms of the House accessible enough to please non-fans as well as emo devotees.

lykke li

9. Lykke Li, I Never Learn

Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li has been a favourite on the blogosphere for a while now and her latest album proves why. From the sparse piano intro of “No Rest for the Wicked” to lush tracks like “Heart of Steel”, Li has created a disarmingly sincere representation of heartbreak. This is an album that drips with sadness, but there’s also a comfort and strength in Li’s voice that draws you in.


8. The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers

Canadian indie sweethearts The New Pornographers come out swinging with their latest collection, Brill Bruisers. The title track opens the album with a refreshing jolt and the rest of Brill Bruisers continues to show off the beautiful knack for melody these veteran songwriters possess. Indie rock is in flux right now with some bands threatening to homogenize their sound entirely, so it’s refreshing to see the New Pornographers staying staunchly true to their distinctive style while still managing to sound entirely modern.


7. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

Sturgill Simpson’s latest concise collection crackles with energy that folk music can sometimes lack. This album has the authenticity and soul of traditional roots music but also a clear-voiced knack for melody that makes it feel thoroughly modern. Sturgill has a ferocious yowl that comes out on occasion (such as on the chorus of album highlight “It Ain’t All Flowers”) but for most of the album his voice is beautifully tender, crackling with life experience that most singer-songwriters could only hope to convey.


6. TV on the Radio, Seeds

I’ve never been a huge fan of TV on the Radio. There was something in their past work that seemed a little too precisely hectic; their music seemed too passionless for all of the attention that it drew to itself. But that all changed with Seeds. Whether it’s the spiky rock of “Happy Idiot” or the cooler intricacies of songs like “Trouble”, the album is completely engaging. Seeds is easily the band’s most accessible outing yet, but they still hang on to their dynamic, somewhat experimental outlook throughout the album’s entirety. The results are wonderful.


5. Spoon, They Want My Soul

Nobody can deliver bouncy indie-rock gems like Brit Daniel. His distinctive yowl is in peak form on Spoon’s eighth studio album, The Want My Soul, but it’s not the only thing that the album has going for it. The piano pounds delightfully on “Let Me Be Mine”. “Do You” creates a sense of urgency and intensity that isn’t always present in Spoon’s music. Each track feels purposeful and distinct, yet they all tie together perfectly. Spoon can feel a bit clinical in their approach, but The Want My Soul is their loosest and liveliest album in a while.


4. Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is known mostly for penning heartfelt, tear-in-you-beer folk ballads. And there’s a little bit of that here. But mostly, his self-titled LP is full of melodic, bold rock songs with guitars that recall Bryan Adams (confusing, I know) and Tom Petty. It’s not Adams’ first foray into rock, but it might be his most fully-formed journey into the genre. “Gimme Something Good” and “Stay With Me” blister with rock swagger, while the moody “Kim” shows that Adams can still tug on the heart strings. Adams is an artist whose sprawling output can feel overwhelming, but this refreshingly concise album is one that anyone interested in his work should make time for.


3. Rural Alberta Advantage, Mended With Gold

Of all the albums on this list, this is probably the one that I have the most trouble articulating my love for. To some, the Rural Alberta Advantage might seem like a fairly standard Canadian indie rock band. But thanks to the band’s unrelenting emphasis on percussion, lead singer Nils Edenloff’s distinctive warble, and the harmonies that subtly permeate every song, I’ve long admired RAA’s sound. And Mended With Gold was where everything really clicked into place for me. The songs sometimes grow from heartbreakingly intimate confessionals to walls of sound in the span of a few bars. There’s a straightforward, clear-eyed honesty in the vein of the Tragically Hip and a sprawling energy a la the Arcade Fire. Yet Rural Alberta Advantage remain unshakably true to their own vision.


2. Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

I encountered Burn Your Fire For No Witness early in the year and it’s stuck with me since. Angel Olsen’s husky tenor doesn’t let you go easily. Her deceptively simple songs bring you back wanting more. I’m not sure if anything in 2014 was more tantalizing than Olsen’s lazy guitar strum of “Lights Out”. She’s Leonard Cohen, she’s Joni Mitchell, and she’s all of the heart that people complain is missing from music nowadays.


1. Sharon Van Etten, Are We There

Sharon Van Etten has been writing stunning music for years now, so the fact that Are We There is her best album yet is quite a feat. But from the slow-burn build of album opener “Afraid of Nothing”, I knew I was in for something special. Elsewhere, we get the emotional exorcism of “Your Love Is Killing Me” (which is easily my favourite song of the year) and the gorgeously halting exhale of “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”. Confessional singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen, but very, very few of them can ever turn a phrase and lay themselves bare the way Van Etten always manages to.

Album Review: Spoon – They Want My Soul

spoonHas there ever been a cooler uncool band than Spoon? It’s open to debate, sure, but Brit Daniel and company are so clean-cut and their sound is so precise that the music has no business rocking as hard as it does. But here we are – 20 years and 8 LPs in – and Spoon sounds just as vibrant as ever.

They Want My Soul offers much of the same jaunty indie rock that we’ve come to expect from the Austin natives, but they also show growth as a band. It’s their first album since 2010’s Transference, and after that strong but slightly stilted collection of songs, it seems like Spoon is back to their looser, quietly rabble-rousing selves.

The album opens with “Rent I Pay”, which is the sort of visceral garage rock that always feels a bit unexpected from Spoon. But they do it well, giving Daniel ample opportunity to show off his snarl. It’s easy to see why they would pick the propulsive track as the first song to show off from the album, but it’s really just a hint of what’s to come from the rest of They Want My Soul.

One of the strengths of They Want My Soul is that it offers many different faces of Spoon while still feeling cohesive. “Rainy Taxi” is urgent with its pleading lyrics and unrelenting percussion. As the chorus builds to something both aggressive and aggressively tuneful, it’s hard not to feel like Spoon is at the top of their game. The same goes for “Do You”, the album’s perfectly jangling lead single. It’s poppy and upbeat but Daniel’s rasp hints at something darker; Spoon is a band that’s great at presenting something pretty and buttoned-up on the surface but that reveals something much more sinister with a little prodding.

They Want My Soul is full of indelible hooks and songs like “Let Me Be Mine” offer the bouncy, driving catchiness that Spoon is at least partially known for. However, the album veers off track a little bit when the band reaches for something a little more unconventional. “Inside Out”, for example, has a more instrumentally stripped-down sound that Spoon has found success with in the past, but it’s never been my favourite mode for the band. The electronic loops and string flourishes just aren’t all that interesting, and the vocal melody is far less compelling than most of the album’s other tracks. Sure, it’s a meditative and sort of chilled-out song, but to me, Spoon isn’t a band that can really get away with playing it cool.

On the whole, though, They Want My Soul is a strong effort from the band, and it comes close to matching the pop bliss of their superb 2007 LP, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. They don’t really reinvent their sound here, but as They Want My Soul’s best tracks prove, Spoon is so good at what they do that it doesn’t really matter.


Songs of the Week: July 6, 2014

ryan adams

Each week, Faint Uproar offers up our picks for the five best newly released songs. Stream them and read our commentary below:

Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”

So this was one of those rare and wonderful weeks where a bunch of musicians I really like all released new material. Among them is Ryan Adams, who also announced the upcoming release of his 14th studio album (out September 9). “Gimme Something Good” will kick off the album, and it suggests a return to Adams’ plugged-in, more rock-influenced sound. From the opening notes, it sounds an awful lot like Tom Petty, but that’s certainly not a bad fit for Adams. Here, he proves that he’s still more than capable of writing one hell of a catchy hook.

Spoon – “Do You”

Speaking of catchy, Spoon hasn’t sounded this good since their excellent, poppy 2007 album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. “Do You” is lively and fun, showing us that Brit Daniel’s signature yowl and the band’s songwriting chops are both still in fine form. We’ll get to see the full force of that soon, when they release their new album, They Want My Soul, on August 5. In the meantime, “Do You” feels like a perfect summer entry, inviting listeners to shimmy along while still packing a wallop.

Bon Iver – “Heavenly Father”

Justin Vernon is a perpetually busy guy, but this is the first new material we’ve heard under the title of his Bon Iver project since 2011. “Heavenly Father” is on the soundtrack for Zach Braff’s new movie, Wish I Was Here, and if nothing else, Braff is assembling some pretty fantastic music for his flick. “Heavenly Father” finds Vernon singing in a lower octave and a fuller voice than usual, which in my opinion is his sweet spot. Vernon rarely disappoints, and hopefully this is a hint that more Bon Iver material is just around the corner.

Titus Andronicus – “Stranded (On My Own)”

Patrick Stickles spoke openly about his personal struggles when he appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast earlier in the year, and while it made for compelling listening, it also suggested that the future of Titus Andronicus was somewhat up in the air. Now, Stickles seems to be making steps to return to what he does so well, and “Stranded (On My Own)” is just as gritty, searing, and inviting as anything off Titus Andronicus’ phenomenal 2010 album, The Monitor.

Foxes In Fiction – “Shadow’s Song” (Feat. Owen Pallett)

Foxes in Fiction might be the least familiar name on this list to many, but by this point, Owen Pallett (who contributes some lovely, swooning strings on the track) has built quite the name for himself in the indie world. It’s a beautifully sombre collaboration, suggesting great things from Foxes in Fiction’s new album, Ontario Gothic (love the name), which will be out on September 23.