Friday, June 10, 2005

Song of the Week 6/10/05

Spoon - “My Mathematical Mind”

Have I mentioned that the new Spoon album, Gimme Fiction, is one of the best of this year? Oh wait, I did right here. This week I got my first chance to see Austin’s best export since that famous public T-V show, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Britt Daniel and company blazed through a set of tight, muscular songs that were great exercises in the old cliché “less is more.” In another band’s hands, songs like “Sister Jack” or “The Way We Get By” would have a lot more flourishes and instruments added on top. But Spoon have learned to break down all their songs to the bare essentials -- one great riff (either on piano or a lone guitar) matched up with great drumming and a perfect use of various percussion.

I spent every commute this week listening to Spoon albums, adding 1998’s A Series of Sneaks to the I-Pod when it came in from Amazon on Monday and playing 2002’s Kill the Moonlight at work repeatedly before Wednesday’s show after picking it up on a record shopping adventure Tuesday night. And while I played those two as much as possible, I kept coming back to Gimme Fiction, particularly “My Mathematical Mind.” A five minute song with no chorus that sounds like the same eight seconds of piano and guitar interplay over and over doesn’t seem to be a winning combination for a song, yet these guys somehow make it work. It's as if the band decided that getting the song down to its essential elements required dropping out that last chord that would bring a natural resolution at the end. Spoon closed their main set with it Wednesday night, a perfect placement for a tune that doesn’t seem to end -- I believe it stops because it’s too tense to continue.

Matthew Perpetua of the great Fluxblog was at the same show, and he and I must have been on the same wavelength Thursday morning as he wrote a great piece about the song as well. He also posted a live version of the song from Willie Nelson’s Songs for Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia benefit album, which is worth picking up. And have you bought Gimme Fiction yet? What the heck are you waiting for?

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