Spoon – Everything Hits At Once: The Best of Spoon
Spoon looks back and forward on greatest hits collection
Spoon has been scooping out hits for more than two decades, and now the indie rock royalty has put out its first greatest hits collection — complete with a brand new single that fits perfectly within the band’s catalog. Dubbed Everything Hits At Once, the album serves a two-fold purpose, depending on how you come at this record. Frontman Britt Daniel says was initially skeptical of culling their output down to a greatest hits set, but came to realize it’s one of the oldest and best ways to introduce new fans to a catalog that can be intimidating to jump into without any direction.
“[A]t some point I remembered that when I got my first Cure record it was Standing on a Beach. When I got my first New Order record, it was Substance,” Daniel explained via NPR. “That was how I met those bands, and I moved backwards from there but I still listen to those comps.”
Out now on digital, vinyl and CD, Everything Hits At Once assembles 12 singles and deeper cuts from Spoon’s catalog of material dating back to 2001’s acclaimed Girls Can Tell, plus a new single. Earlier, late 1990’s albums Telephono and A Series of Sneaks are not represented in the collection. Considering the record is spotlighting tunes from seven albums — most of which are deep with several great songs — the set does a good job of spotlighting the best of the best. Though, fans will surely complain there are plenty of other songs that could’ve made the cut.
Though they obviously capture most of the hits, this record really serves more as a sampler for Spoon’s vibe. It’s sharp guitars, a bit of jangly pop, clever lyrics and beats that will stick in your head for days. Gimme Fiction’s “I Turn My Camera On” and “Everything Hits At Once” hold things together for OG fans, along with “The Way We Get By” from Kill the Moonlight. More modern favorites like 2017’s “Hot Thoughts” and “Do You” from 2014’s They Want My Soul round out the collection, buoyed by a few cuts from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and others.
To that end, Everything Hits At Once is the perfect entry point for fans who have never really gotten into Spoon. It hits the highlights, teases the deep cuts, and provides a clear window into what type of sound and feel you’ll find depending on whichever album you might want to dig into next. Put simply, it’s a gateway drug to Spoon’s deep catalog over the past few decades.
Thankfully, there’s also a little something for fans who’ve already rocked out to all those albums over the past few years. The band’s first new release since 2017, the single “No Bullets Spent,” rounds out the retrospective. The song blends the usual sound fans have come to know and love with a modern tale about economic woes and gun culture. It’s clever, timely and (not surprisingly) very catchy to boot.
Crossed Keys – Saviors
Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds
Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.
Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.
For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.
Pine – Pine
Pine’s debut album is a kind of hypnotic melancholia
Where did Ottawa’s Pine come from? It’s a question worth asking after listening to their painfully gorgeous self-titled debut album. Pine use the phrase “doom and gloom never sounded so sweet” to describe their sound, and true to that, this 11-track outing is filled with the kind of hypnotic melancholia that became the playbook for a great many Midwestern emo bands that emerged in the late 90s/early 2000s. The biggest difference here is that while Pine have the heartbreak down pat, their musical sense of loss is lifted slightly by the airy, more wistful sounds of their guitar-strewn songs. Sure, there’s a lot that sounds like a great Mineral record or a Gloria Record album, but there’s also traces of Florida indie/emo band The Rocking Horse Winner and at times, bands like Rainer Maria.
Pine are buoyed by the great vocal work of Darlene Deschamps. Her voice soars through tracks like “Memento” and the terrific “Lusk”. The latter in particular is a great example of how Pine lull you into a sense of calm before it explodes in a collage of symphonic distortion and post-rock twinkling. In “Sunder” they ascend to louder, more expansive sounds. The song is a great combination of thick, fuzzy guitars, mid-tempo percussion work, and that pained vocal delivery that gives the song an extra punch in the guts.
The album took an impressive 2 years to finish, and you can hear the trials and tribulations of that gestation period through the songs. There’s pain, sadness, anger and frustration in songs like the intro “Within You” and the more new emo-esque “Swollen”, but also beauty, and as the album concludes, a sense of incredible catharsis. The record SOUNDS great too, with production values (by a production team that includes Will Yip, who has helmed records by Circa Survive, Braid, Saosin, and the Bouncing Souls to name a few) adding to the grand cinematic finish of the record.
For those who love what emo was in the mid to late 90s will find much to like about Pine just as much as those who like Explosions in the Sky and their post-rock brethren. Pine have been crafting their sound over the last few years and while their previous EP Pillow Talk showed a solid foundation, this new self-titled record is the work of a band close to the height of their abilities. Moving, beautiful, and littered with life’s roller coaster of emotions as songs, Pine is definitely recommended listening.