Wanted souls, hypnotic eyes and reigning sounds

Your fall album mash-up

By L. Kent Wolgamott and Alan Sculley

Photo: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers // Hypnotic Eye // Warner Bros.

 

Spoon has been off the radar for three years or so, the product of the first real break the group has taken from the recording/tour treadmill. They return on They Want My Soul sounding very much like always, but with some twists on their economical and hooky rock-pop sound. For one thing, primary producer/mixer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips) helps bring a little extra edge to the album. Songs like “Rainy Taxi,” “Do You” and the title track are propulsive rockers with big hooks and some tasteful guitar fuzz. And They Want My Soul opens with one of Spoon’s hardest hitting songs ever, “Rent I Pay.” These songs aren’t exactly bombastic – a word songwriter/singer/guitarist Britt Daniel used early on to describe the album-in-progress – but they add some welcome energy to the group’s sound. Perhaps the biggest stretch among these 10 songs is the electro-laced “New York Kiss,” which gives the group’s newest addition, keyboardist Alex Fischel, a chance to shine. That track finishes what is another smart, finely-crafted collection of songs from a group that has rarely failed to deliver distinctive, high-quality music with every album.

File next to: Guided By Voices, Ted Leo

Rating: 4/5

– Alan Sculley 

 

Tom Petty sings of a nation’s disillusionment and diminishing expectations on “American Dream Plan B,” riding a grungy guitar riff that melds into a driving melody. Then he and the Heartbreakers shift into the shaking drive of “Fault Line,” the second of 11 songs on Hypnotic Eye, an album that returns to the tough rock ‘n’ roll of Petty’s first two albums. On “Forgotten Man,” Petty wails away, “I feel a four letter word” against vibrating guitars, and character sketches like “Red River” tell the story of those struggling to get by on society’s fringes, while “Burnt Out Town,” sings the blues of corruption, crime and urban decline. Those laments are delivered by Petty’s gravelly, nasal Southern drawl against the great grooves created by the Heartbreakers, and, especially, the riffs and biting leads of guitarist Mike Campbell. Hitting on all cylinders, the Heartbreakers make “Full Grown Boy” a vampy jazzy ballad, catch a bass-rooted, riff-driven groove on “U Get Me High” and slink through a driving “Power Drunk.” As always, the songs on Hypnotic Eye are sturdy and built for the long haul – which means the album gets better and better with each listen.

File next to: Dawes, Blue Rodeo

Rating: 3.5/5

– L. Kent Wolgamott

 

Reigning Sound’s Shattered is an ultra cool merger of Reigning Sound main man Greg Cartwright’s garage rock and the organ-rooted vintage soul of Brooklyn’s The Jay Vons that makes for warm, captivating and, importantly, fresh rock ‘n’ roll that spins together the best of both genres. For instance, one would never expect to hear strings in garage rock. But they turn up a couple times, creating the lush beauty of “Never Coming Home,” one of the album’s breakup songs, and “Once More,” a gorgeous acoustic guitar-rooted number. But there’s plenty of electric rock on the album, which was recorded at Daptone Studios as well. “My My” brings a Rolling Stones swagger and “You Did Wrong” and “Baby It’s Too Late” take full advantage of the swirling organ to create psychedelia with a beat ala Nuggets. Cartwright sings great, too, getting full-on soulful on the closer “I’m Trying (To Be The Man You Need)” the purest soul number of the 11 songs on the record. There’s nothing over-the-top wild on Shattered. It’s just cool.

File next to: The Hives, King Khan and the Shrines

Rating: 4/5

– L. Kent Wolgamott  

 

Pe’ahi is the beach album from Danish duo The Raveonettes, who have relocated to Southern California and are letting the sun shine in to their music. That doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned the combination of vintage rock ‘n’ roll drum beats, buzzing Jesus and Mary Chain guitars and Sharin Foo’s girl-groupish vocals, floating catchy melodies over the surging fuzz and reverb. But Pe’ahi, which takes its name from an area on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Maui, is warmer than previous Raveonettes records. Writer/guitarist/producer Sune Rose Wagner utilizes much more than just distorted electric guitars to create the music, opening up songs like “Killer in the Streets,” and catching a mellow beach vibe on “The Rains of May.” This is not to say Pe’ahi is cheery. Its opening line is “I have sand in my sound and death on my mind.” What follows are songs in which Wagner grapples with his father’s death through Foo’s voice and the lush sounds. “Kill,” the album’s harshest song, is a particularly harrowing number about catching dad in the midst of an adulterous encounter. “A Hell Below” is so gorgeously noisy, the stripped down “I don’t want to ever see you again” midway through hits like a punch.

File next to: The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Kills

Rating: 3.5/5

– L. Kent Wolgamott

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at AlanSculley@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer L. Kent Wolgamott at LKentWolgamott@DaytonCityPaper.com

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