Listening To…

  • 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.


5 thoughts on “Listening To…

  1. Girl from the North Country

    Listening to a lot of old Linda Ronstadt, and also to Guy Clark singing Baton Rouge, a track that my darling , late brother-in-law was mad about and played to me a lot the last time I visited him before he died:

    How’s Tricksie? Did the antibiotics work?

    1. cleek Post author

      don’t know Guy Clark. looks like i should. but, that’s gotta be a heavy memory, for you. whew.

      we assume the antibiotics worked. the lymph node is normal-sized again.

      but she’s half the cat she used to be: starting to have trouble jumping, has a permanent glazed look in her eyes, still not purring, starting to get cat acne.

      so, we’re spoiling her with butter and coconut oil.

  2. Rob Caldecott

    Hot Thoughts took lots of listens for me too but now it’s really kicked in. I like the bleeps and boops very much indeed. They were on Jools Holland this week and were really good live. Roll on June 30th.

    Grandaddy – Last Place is a superb record. Every song is as catchy as hell. I never really got into them before but this record is addictive. Not one bad song. I guess I should try The Sophtware Slump as that’s what everyone seems to know them for.

    The new Shins record is growing on me but the jury is still out.

    Listening to lots of Bowie, especially Blackstar and the remastered Diamond Dogs.

    My daughter bought me a record player for my birthday and the Bowie Legacy album. It’s fun to play with but I just missed out on vinyl bitd and was more a cassette tape teen so the nostalgia value isn’t very strong. My kids find it fascinating though: music to then is the green Spotify icon and the idea of physical media is alien. Other friends of mine are really into collecting old records but I’m actually thinking about getting a decent amp/CD player again. I have over 300 CDs and will soon have a house with space for a man cave so they can come out of boxes. What say y’all: is it time for a CD revival? I’ve been secretly buying second hand CDs from Amazon for £1 a pop in readiness!

    1. cleek Post author

      we get Jools Holland over here on BBC America, but i don’t know if the shows are current. will have to keep an eye out.

      i really liked the Sophtware Slump, back in the day – it was so weird and unique and catchy. struggled to get into Sumday, but my iPhone’s shuffle has decided i should hear it a lot, so it’s growing on me.

      haven’t tried the new Shins. the last couple didn’t do much for me. the first two remain great, though.

      Spoon, Grandaddy, Shins, Rouge Wave – early 2000s was a great time for quirky alt-rock bands!

  3. Girl from the North Country

    A sad memory, but at the same time pleasure at the pleasure he took in it, and I now love it too.

    Cat acne on top of everything else – poor little moggy (English slang for cats). I’m sorry cleek.

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