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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Returns To Tell Us THE BLUES ARE NUMBER ONE!

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 19, 2012 7:00PM

Jon Spencer at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival. Photo by Jim Kopeny.
The Jon Spencer Bules Explosion—vocalist and guitarist Spencer, second guitarist Judah Bauer and the mountainous drumming of Russell Simins—was truly a primal force to be reckoned with in their heyday. Spencer took the racket of his earlier band Pussy Galore and threw heavier rhythms into it while simultaneously turing up his guitar even louder. The Blues Explosion released a series of albums through the '90s that found their roots in the backwoods, dragged them into a southern garage and eventually tempered then tempered them with a cut-n-paste mentality. Their light shone white hot, only dimming and finally sputtering out with their disappointing swan song in the mid aughts. We admit that when the band regrouped a few years ago we didn't have high hopes for their future. That is we didn't until we saw them play in 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival. One of our greatest joys that weekend was watching kids who never heard of Jon Spencer—and probably thought his Pussy Galore was an old James bond film—go from smirking at the old man in leather pants onstage to Picking their eyebrows up from the back of the field next to the rest of their bodies that had been blown away by the power of the Blues Explosion.

The group went slightly dark between then and now in order to enter a sonic lab and cook up some new material. But would the recipe still work? Could they find enough honest mojo to inject into their new material and make it work again? We knew they could bring it live, but did they have anything relevant to offer today?

The new album Meat + Bone answers all those questions with a resounding FUCK YES. Spencer and crew have dialed into the frenzied sexuality that made them such a hit with the indie boys and girls in the first place. They've reconnected with their inner James Brown and run him through a grinder in order to get the mixture or rawk and soul that permeates the new album. And the songs still drive for a directness untainted by irony. When Spencer growls "Get Your Pants Off" in the song of the same name it works because the music surrounding it makes him sound like he honestly means it. The album is filled with what we would consider dance numbers if you were on a dance floor in the basement of some speakeasy club whose walls were slimy with sweat and bourbon. This is music deeply informed by equal amounts soul and swagger and it results in a gritty stew that you just want to plunge your whole body into.

Indeed my friends, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back and they're not fucking around.

Meat + Bone is out now and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion plays October 21 at Bottom Lounge.