- Spoon – Hot Thoughts. I’ve been trying to get into this for weeks. New Spoon records usually take a while to sink in, but this has taken longer. The songs are clearly Spoon songs, a bit funkier than usual, but there’s a thick layer of glossy dance-music production on top that I keep bouncing off of – lots of electronic blips and bloops, lots of compression, staccato everything. This pains me. Am I too old for this stuff now? Has one of my favorite bands moved in a direction I can’t follow? But, last night, I played this record on our Sonos system, and it clicked. For some reason Sonos thinks the first two songs should be at the end of the record (they were released early, so maybe their metadata is messed up). And it turns out what I don’t like about this record is that first song, the title track. Without that, the rest of the record is fine. The sound is still different, but I can handle it now. That first song just puts me in a bad mood! Skip it! This probably won’t be my favorite Spoon record, but at least I can stop worrying that I’m over the hill.
- Flock Of Dimes – If You See Me, Say Yes. Jenn Wasner is half of the great band, Wye Oak. And this is her solo project. This has more synths and more electronic percussion, but it actually sounds a lot like current Wye Oak; unsurprising since her distinctive songwriting and singing are the core of each. The synths and heavily-chorused guitar sounds give off a strong 80s vibe – am I hearing Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson ? Whatever it is, I dig it. I like what she does with her vocal melodies.
- Louie Jordan – #1s. Sometimes called the grandfather of rock and roll, Louis Jordan was a bandleader from the late 30s into the early 50s. He did a mix of danceable jazz and blues that got labelled “jump blues”. The bands were smaller than big-band jazz bands, and the tunes were cheeky and sometimes a bit bawdy (for the time). It wasn’t rock and it wasn’t R&B; the instrumentation and presentation was still in the 30s/40s jazz band style, and there was still a lot of swing in there. But it was close. By the late 40’s, Jordan was right on the edge of what we know as rock and roll. And the people who went on to become the first generation of rockers were clearly listening to him. For example, listen to the first few seconds of “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman”:
Louis Jordan Ain't That Just Like A Woman
Chuck Berry, who wasn’t shy about his love of Jordan, built a career off that lick.