For the past 15 years, Spoon has been one of the most quintessential bands of indie rock. The group has been recording since the mid-90’s and much like the genre itself; began reaching a far greater audience in the earlier part of the past decade. Their earlier sound was a blend of rock and roll with some pop and punk. These elements have always been very present; however they have been packaged together much more meticulously in their more recent albums such as Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Transference. Britt Daniel (vocals, guitar) and Jim Eno (drums) have created a distinct style that relies upon bouncy rhythms, precise timing, and very well crafted song-writing. They have that ability to create music that seems to be tethering on the edge of control with little distinction between improvisational and composed moments which is evident in their live shows.
In addition to the LPs that Spoon has released throughout it’s career, a number of other EPs and demos have also been released to add to the bands repertoire. With Bonus Tracks 2008-2009 they offer a more stripped down look into the creative processes that have made this band so beloved by its fans. This latest release focuses on the Austin, TX quartet in the studio rearranging, tampering, and toying with songs that we’ve heard from them before (all of the tracks were released on Spoon albums prior to 2010’s Transference). What makes this album interesting is seeing the band actually look back on these tracks in the studio space after they were release and bringing many of these songs back down to their basics.
The album kicks off with “Was It You; which contains a very simple and effective bass and drum loop throughout the song, laced with some funky guitar riffs. The effect is a laid back and cool version of this track, which sets the expectations high for the rest of the album. Unfortunately, many of the other tracks serve more or less as acoustic versions that show little variance otherwise to their studio counterparts. “Rhythm and Soul” and “Don’t Let It Get You Down” and while they may be suitable listening when you’re looking for a lighter sound; there are other concert recordings that have surfaced which capture some of these tracks better.
“Cherry Bomb” on the other hand offers a different take on their catchy hit from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, placing the song in a country sing-along context with other members of the band scatting away throughout. Much of the latter portion of the album seems like the band just arbitrarily chose stripped down demos of the quartet fooling around in studio; complete with lyrics changed on the fly and abrupt endings. One unreleased track is featured as the final song on the album – “In The Right Place, The Right Time,” which sounds similar to Spoon tracks of the early 2000’s; but with no reference to a polished version of this song, the acoustic versions just seems to fall short.
Many of the tracks give you the impression that the band was just casually bored in the studio between the recording of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and Transference. While Bonus Tracks 2008-2009 still provides some insight to their recording process, it lacks both the care put into production and the energy of their live show. This album is definitely for fans only; as some context is required in order to appreciate these versions; however the ten songs are over within a half hour and leave you with the desire to go back to the albums which made you like this band in the first place.
1. Was It You (Demo)
2. Rhythm and Soul (Demo)
3. Don’t Let It Get You Down (Demo)
4. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (Country Demo)
5. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case (Demo)
6. Merchants of Soul (Demo)
7. Eddie’s Ragga (Demo)
8. My Mathematical Mind (Demo)
9. You Gotta Feel It (Rehearsal)
10. In the Right Place the Right Time (Demo)