Tim Showalter (Strand of Oaks) Talks Spoon’s They Want My Soul

Strand of Oaks’ Tim Showalter brews up a fine cup of French press and contemplates Spoon’s latest.

Excerpt from a “blog rant” (if I actually had a blog):

Emo Revival. That’s when I fucking gave up on everything (well, not really, but come the fuck on). I’m glad that 18-to-25-year-olds are making music in the midst of a life filled with torrents (still don’t know what the fuck they are) and Reddit (still don’t know what the fuck that is either). We need fresh blood, right? Whatever. I logged on to the net and heard a song that sounded like 14 generations of bad VHS dubbing of a Cap’n Jazz song. Cap’n Jazz fucking ruled, dude. Hell, Joy Division was already post-Warsaw when they started jamming. It’s inevitable that things change; kids are always looking for shiny new toys. We are always recreating, but please, kids, when you’re lying in your iCRIB at night reaching for your spinning mobile of indie Top Ten lists, do some goddamn research. Isn’t that what Reddit is for?

— Taken with editorial liberty from http://www.ThinkinbouttheWORLD.org. Copyright T.R. Showdog 8/4/2014.


Spoon is the most consistent band of the last 15 years. And by consistent, I mean perfect. I jumped on the train with Kill the Moonlight. With each new record, my world was expanded. How can a band maintain this level of focus for so long? How can songwriting with such a strong, instantly recognizable identity never get boring? I have no idea, but Spoon does it.

Every year I wonder if these Texas boys will have a new record. I also ask the same question about Sigur Rós, the National and Joanna Newsom, if you were wondering. I came to the realization this past year that all eras of music are classic. We have our own Rolling Stones, Kinks, Pink Floyds, Joni Mitchells and… well, maybe not our own Beatles. But, just to take one example, Gimme Fiction can stand face-to-face with any classic album out there.

Now, I’m in whatever position one has to be in to get a chance to write about a Spoon album. I’m super flattered that I’m allowed to do this. To be honest, though, I could’ve written this whole piece without listening to the album. Because it’s going to be good. There is no way that it couldn’t be.

I’m actually doing my writing in the morning. Spoon deserves my best, whatever that means. French press is just at the right temperature, as I actually just learned that we all brew coffee way too hot. I try to keep mine around 160 degrees… very creamy texture.

Jim Eno is one of my favorite drummers ever. I briefly met him in Austin after a show and just when my mouth started moving into a long drunken “thank you,” he walked away, luckily for the both of us. One second into opening track “Rent I Pay,” I feel everything is right with the world again. Then the whole kit is mixed 10,000 times louder than it should be. Thank God!

Am I supposed to go song for song on this? Nah. They’re all amazing. I am a fan of Spoon! Aren’t we all? Isn’t that comforting? They’re like the Johnny Carson of indie-rock. Everyone loves them, and it brings a sense of comfort to life. What’s even more awesome is that no cybernetic hype machine has forced us to love Spoon. (I was going to try to do some kind of Matrix analogy but honestly, I don’t remember that movie too well.) These days, I’m so nervous about being manipulated into liking albums. The modern machine makes me feel like I’m the dude in A Clockwork Orange getting institutionalized into what music I should like, eyes and ears forced open until I cave and accept that it’s cool or something. (Yup, Talkhouse… a Kubrick reference, y’all… high art shit.)

Like every other Spoon album, They Want My Soul is filled with songs that seem like they’ve lived in my head since the womb. Yet they haven’t. These are melodies so fucking fresh they feel like Ray Davies and John Lennon went on a camping trip with Harry Nilsson and brought some gear and minidiscs (retro reference). Effortless is a bullshit word but, my god, Britt Daniel seems to just ooze melodies. (And he’s tall too… what an asshole.) It feels like a completely new Spoon album, yet these songs could be interchanged with any other song they’ve written. They are instantly in the canon of familiarity. I’m only writing this piece on the third listen and it’s already there.

I kind of remember from school that good writing always cycles back to an original thought. (Thanks, Mrs. Cartwright. You were a shining light in the Goshen School System and I’m sorry for all the parentheses and cuss words.) So: back to the emo revival. I hope it sells electronic newspapers or whatever. I know it’s already passé and kids are really into the JNCO-laden rap-rock revival out of Bushwick. Frankly, I don’t care, and I hope that whoever makes that music and then shares it on Vice’s Facebook page gets a big kick out of it. Because there is no history to this music. I tried literally for hours the other day to remember that boy/girl duo who made really loud guitar soccer chants mixed with hip-hop beats. I still don’t remember the name. This music passes. Granted, it’s important for those who find it, because music can do that, but face it, you’re already on to something else.

Spoon is flying so high above all this bullshit that it inspires me to look up and picture Britt flying on some really cool vintage Gibson ES-335-shaped jet plane and giving us all the finger. Spoon’s music is forever, and I personally feel lucky to have come of age and witnessed such an amazing band evolve and continually grant us the privilege of hearing their albums. I’m excited to add They Want My Soul to that list.

Tim Showalter performs as Strand of Oaks. His new album HEAL is available now via Dead Oceans. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.