Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I pretty much dismissed Spacek outright based on desultory live performances they'd delivered in support of Mos Def and (I think it was) Rae and Christian, or Stereolab or someone, in cavernous London venues. I remember thinking while watching them there were probably some good songs buried beneath the muddy squelch of sub-bass and non-existant middle or top end sonics in their charmless big-venue live sound, but there seemed to be a lot of acts peddling dubby downtempo with a soulful crooner out front at the time, and they didn't seem overly good at it.
Having been knocked sideways by Steve Spacek's vocals on a couple of recent records, I may have to revisit this opinion - his track on Troubleman's Time Out Of Mind and an excellent SA RA remix just picked up on Sound in Colour.
His appearance on the Troubleman album is a no-brainer, a fabulous cut on an album that's very close to my favourite of the year (Jazzy Jeff's too, apparently), a wistful torch-song replete with swooning strings and shoop-sha-doops over a lurching, tripping-down-stairs on the third kick-snare-rim beat that sucker-punches me every time.
Then I heard the SA RA mix, wandering into Central Station on a lunchbreak to find J'nett unpacking the first boxes of a new shipment with the sort of timing that always seems to happen to everyone else.
It's quite similar to the Troubleman track; Steve's woozy, smoked-out vocal riding a bulbous, subterannian bassline clattering around and straining your subs while these ridiculously summery muted horns bring in the chorus. The beat is super-nice, but Steve's vocals, on both tracks, are awesome; so similar yet there's a detachment in his delivery on Without You and a contrasting closeness on Simply So that both devastate in such intriguingly subtle ways. Why has it taken so long to hear him working with producers like this?
And then there's this. Lazy folks and sales sheets have a point with the Outkast comparisons, there being more than an odd The Love Below moment. Unconditional love for this record right now, and for some reason released in Australia a month before the rest of the world too! If Plant Life don't blow up something's gone terribly awry; their album is a balm for trouble brows and no mistake.