Now that there is a new album (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is out on July 10,) I feel compelled to compare it to the previous albums and rank them as I see fit. It's probably still way too early to compare the new album to the others, but after 3+ listens I put it as a close runner-up to Gimme Fiction.
A few months later I saw them in concert for the first time, and this was still at a time when they would play the inside stage at Stubb's. In an odd encounter I met Britt Daniel the next day on an elevator inside the UT football stadium, while a copy of A Series of Sneaks was spinning on my laptop. True story.
As the story goes, "Seeing the potential to sell records with an up-and-coming indie rock band, Elektra Records, along with A&R representative Ron Laffitte, signed Spoon to their first major record deal, which produced their much anticipated second LP, A Series of Sneaks. Unfortunately, after four months of low sales, Laffitte was fired and Spoon was ultimately dropped from Elektra. Angry with Laffitte (who had promised promotional funding) and the rest of the executives at Elektra, Spoon recorded a vindictively written two-song EP at Saddle Creek Records, immortalizing their broken deal. Britt and co. nails Mr. Laffitte with lyrics like: "It's like I knew two of you, man / The one before and after we shook hands," while telling him later in the chorus that he's no better than label CEO Sylvia Rhone."
All I ever asked of you is a copy of Garage Days and to tell me the truth
Ain't no one watching you exit Ventura Highway
It's like I knew two of you man
The one before and after we shook hands
Taking the calls but in all forgetting what's been said
And after dark in a cab in L.A.
Forget about the meter man these are salad days
Comes on the radio comes on and what's being said
Is you're no better than Sylvia
No better than Sylvia
No better than Sylvia
No better than Sylvia
Where you are and where you've been and where you've gone oh no
Here's a mark he's a mark on the page
Dishing out the wisdom of this reflexive age
Dotting the eyes with an eye for defining what you were
So when you do that line tonight
Remember that it came at a steep price
And keep telling yourself there's more to you than her
But you're no better than Sylvia
Telephono, Spoon's debut full-length, is probably held in highest esteem by collectors and super fans. I bought it off of eBay in 2004 for about $50, and sure enough Merge goes and re-releases it just two short years later, packaged along with the Soft Effects EP. The same story goes for the split EP by Britt Daniel and Conor Oberst titled Home Volume IV, which I paid a few extra dollar bills for only a short time before it was re-issued by Post-Parlo Records. Great for Spoon fans, not so good for me. That split featured what is probably my favorite Spoon B-side, "Let the Distance Bring Us Together."
The Rolling Stone review of Telephono: "With all the Nirvana clones running amok, it's unusual to find a new band that actually remembers the Pixies, one of Kurt Cobain's main inspirations. Spoon recall that band too well. They understand how the Pixies created delightfully disconcerting melodies with unusual time signatures, sharp guitars and soft verse/loud chorus dynamics. Spoon learned how the Pixies countered Black Francis' howling vocals with Kim Deal's lethargic coos, and Spoon molded that knowledge into their debut album, Telephono, which might have been better called Smells Like Doolittle.
Despite the obvious similarities to their mentors, Spoon have created an engaging disc that strikes a precarious balance between quirkiness and catchiness. The songs may be willfully awkward, but they're short, simple and memorable, and they never degenerate into a noisy mess, as the Pixies' sometimes did. In an era in which alternative fans value art-damaged groups like the Flaming Lips and the Breeders and have a musical frame of reference that dates back no further than 1992, Spoon can be forgiven for their plagiarism and praised for their craftiness."Speaking of the Spoon-Pixies connection, Britt Daniel once recorded a Pixies cover under a pseudonym that he used from 1994-96, Drake Tungsten. Drake self-released Clocking Out is for Suckers in 1994, and in 1996 released the Six Pence For The Sauces EP via Austin's Peek-A-Boo Records, which contained an instrumental cover version of the Pixies' "Do The Manta Ray."
Peek-A-Boo: "Drake Tungsten was a pseudonym for Britt Daniel's home recording project circa 1994-96. The short, acoustic tracks reveal Britt's love of The Beatles, while the others, moodier and embellished with arty guitar effects, offer an early glipmse of the Spoon frontman's songwriting and recording talent. Two of these songs were later recorded and released by Spoon — "I Could Be Underground" on the "30 Gallon Tank" EP, and "Chicago At Night" on the "Girls Can Tell" album. Although it has been out of print for many years, these songs are finally widely available again as digital downloads from iTunes and eMusic." Here's one from Mr. Tungsten...
More recently Spoon visited the Australian national radio station Triple J, recording a live cover of Julian Cope's "Upwards At 45 Degrees" for their weekly morning segment called Like A Version. The host gets an artist or group into the studio to do a cover of any song of their choosing, and some of the results have been featured on the compilation albums Like a Version: Vol 1 (2005) and Like a Version: Vol 2 (2006).
It is interesting to note that Britt Daniel's first band (1991-92) was named Skellington, which was the same title as Julian Cope's fifth solo album that was released a year earlier.
and visit the Austin Chronicle for an early bio piece.
To purchase Spoon releases online, click: