With a heady blend of precision punk and serpentine classic rock (the band has drawn comparisons to everyone from the Pixies and Sonic Youth to Elvis Costello and Tom Petty), Texas-based indie outfit Spoon went from underground press darlings to one of the genre's most critically acclaimed acts. Formed in Austin by singer/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, Spoon released its debut EP, Nefarious, on the small Texas imprint Fluffer Records in 1994, eventually re-recording three of the songs for its 1996 full-length debut, Telephono, for Matador. The album was noisy, hook-filled, and generally well-received, but it wasn't until 1997's Soft Effects EP that the group began to hone in on the tight, minimalist pop that would become its forte. A brief and tumultuous affair with Elektra Records began in 1998 with the release of A Series of Sneaks, and quickly ended after the band was dropped in the midst of an internal company shake-up (the record was reissued in 2002 on Merge with two bonus tracks that chronicled the group's disappointment with major-label politics).
It was with prominent indie label Merge that the band would go on to carve out its niche in the increasingly widening modern rock mainstream, specifically with Girls Can Tell (2001) and Kill the Moonlight (2002) (the latter spawned the single "The Way We Get By," which appeared on the popular teen drama The O.C.), both of which found the group taking a more adventurous approach with its sound. Released in 2005, Gimme Fiction soared even higher, debuting at number 44 on the Billboard charts and selling over 160,000 copies, while 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga made it to number ten and sold over 300,000 copies in the U.S., topping nearly every major critic's year-end list. Spoon, who by this time had become a fixture on soundtracks, television programs, and late-night talk shows, released its seventh full-length album, Transference, on January 18, 2010. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. After touring in support of the album, the band took a few years off. Daniel formed Divine Fits with Handsome Furs' Dan Boeckner, and the band released its debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, in 2012. Meanwhile, Eno concentrated on production work, collaborating with artists including the Strange Boys, Alejandro Escovedo, and the Heartless Bastards. Spoon resurfaced in 2014 with They Want My Soul. The band's eighth album also marked their first time working with an outside producer in the shape of Dave Fridmann. Hailed by the band as its "loudest and gnarliest" work to date, it was released in August 2014 through Loma Vista Recordings in the U.S. and Anti in Europe. Late in 2016, a new song, "I Ain't the One," was featured on the Showtime dramedy Shameless and offered the first taste of Spoon's ninth album. Hot Thoughts, which reunited the band with Fridmann and ranged from dance-rock to stripped-down ballads, was released by the band's original label Matador in March 2017. ~ James Christopher Monger
- Austin, TX