The 10 Best Songs to Get You Hooked on Spoon, One of America’s Best Rock Bands

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 1 2014 10:37 AM

Where Should I Start With Spoon?

Singer-songwriter Britt Daniel of Spoon, one of America's best rock bands
Singer-songwriter Britt Daniel of Spoon, one of America's best rock bands.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, I profile Spoon, the Austin-based rock band that’s built a 20-year career out of songs that use the building blocks of pop music—AC/DC drums, Dr. Dre synths, the “Duke of Earl” groove—to create something idiosyncratic and unmistakably their own. Spoon’s new album, They Want My Soul, comes out on Tuesday, and Brow Beat has already previewed a number of the excellent songs on the record, from the spacey ballad “Inside Out” to the summery “Do You.” You can also sample the album’s Joan Jett-esque opener, “Rent I Pay,” as the band performed it on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last month, a gig that ended with an exhausting 90-minute mixing session as the band doggedly scrubbed the track clean of all the effects the show’s engineer had added.

The band’s music comes from the long-term aesthetic partnership between lead singer and songwriter Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, in whose Austin studio the band rehearses and prepares most of their songs. Spoon almost fell apart after the major label Elektra dropped them in 1998, but found new vigor with the success of Daniel’s bridge-burning single “The Agony of Laffitte,” a harsh rebuke of Elektra A&R man Ron Laffitte, who’d promised them the moon and then quit the label.


The band then released five sharp, excellent albums on the independent label Merge Records (a story told very well in John Cook’s oral history of Merge, Our Noise). The new album is on a new label, Loma Vista, but their songs are still great and complex, written and recorded with the admirable attention to detail that 90-minute mixing ordeal suggests. Here’s where to start with one of America’s best rock bands.

“The Agony of Laffitte” (1999)

“The Fitted Shirt” (2000)

“The Way We Get By” (2002)

“The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine” (2005)

“I Turn My Camera On” (2005)

“Sister Jack” (2005)

“Finer Feelings” (2007)

“Black Like Me” (2007)

“Out Go the Lights” (2010)

“Nobody Gets Me But You” (2010)

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 3:53 PM Smash and Grab Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
Oct. 20 2014 5:39 PM Whole Foods Desperately Wants Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.