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Spoon Kills the Moonlight

story by tim mcmahan




Lazy-i: September 4, 2002

w/John Vanderslice, Sound of Rails
Thursday, Sept. 12
Sokol Underground

9 p.m.



Want more Spoon?
Check out Britt's April 2001 Lazy-I interview.


Britt Daniel and his band, Spoon, have become stripped down -- sonically that is.

On their latest CD, Kill the Moonlight, Daniel's usually dominant guitar has been swapped with keyboards and the songs have been taken down to their core melodies and rhythms. The result is an eclectically modern rock sound, a sort of analog techno.

Anyone who caught Spoon last year when they came to Omaha in support of the wildly successful Girls Can Tell LP knows that a big part of Daniel's stage presence is the way he slings his axe. What will he do when he returns to Sokol Underground Sept. 12?

"There are only three songs without guitars and they weren't really made to be played live," said a laid-back Daniel from his Austin, Texas, home just days before leaving on tour. "Anyone that has made a somewhat produced record knows what I'm talking about. We made records in the past where we just recorded the live show. This time we're translating the songs to the stage."

The unique sound on Kill the Moonlight grew out of insecurity with the CD's original recordings. "Usually, out of pure fear, we end up drastically changing the songs," he said. "We recorded a version in October and listened to what we had done and didn't like what we were hearing. We said, 'We gotta change this,' I ended up writing new songs and we rerecorded almost everything. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our fans don't like this as much as our last one."

That would be hard to believe. In contrast to Girls Can Tell's highly structured pop rock ditties, Kill the Moonlight is 34 minutes of bouncy melodic hooks that border deceptively on minimalism. Take a second listen, or a third, and the songs' complexity begin to unfold. Daniel hasn't turned his back on pop, he's merely found a way to make pop sound fresh again, in an indie sort of way.

Maybe that's not the best way to describe it. "Indie" is a term that Daniel has been dissing in the press lately, in one instance going out of his way to say he doesn't like indie rock.

"I think I've been misquoted on the whole indie rock thing," he said. "What I said was Guided by Voices never sounded like indie rock to me, though they're definitely placed in that genre. I understand why we've been categorized as indie and I'm not offended. Sometimes the term symbolizes underachievers. It means something different to everyone."

Regardless, Kill the Moonlight, like Girls Can Tell before it, was released on reputable indie-rock label Merge, a fact that Daniel is proud to point out. And that's not the only indie release he's promoting these days. Post Parlo Records will release a Spoon/Bright Eyes split EP later this month. All the songs were recorded in singer/songwriter Conor Oberst's basement last April.

"I came in with a song that was completed and one that was only halfway written that we worked on together," Daniel said. "Conor's lyrics are fucking amazing.

What does he remember about the recording sessions? "Conor is vegan, so I ate a lot of soy burgers and drank a lot of soy milk," he said. "Conor, on the other hand, didn't eat anything at all. I felt like a fat old man."

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Originally published in The Omaha Weekly Sept. 4, 2002. Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

"I wouldn't be surprised if some of our fans don't like this as much as our last one."