Rouse and Spoon get better with age

Josh Rouse
“Country Mouse, City House”
4 out of 5 stars

The quick explanation of Josh Rouse is that he seems to have engaged a Ryan Adams-esque rhythm of writing and recording to the point where he has established himself as one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the modern era. He has come out with eight full-length albums in the span of 10 years in addition to his Bedroom Classics EPs, a live and rarities disc, and the She’s Spanish, I’m American EP he released with spanish singer Paz Suay earlier this year.

Having said that, his latest album could be described as the most relaxed and most subdued album Rouse has put out during this stretch. Maybe this is due to the fact that he considers this to be his “winter album” and across the board it certainly is the most chill and most at-ease record of the lot. Examples would be the hushed vocals on “Italian Dry Ice” or the unassuming groove of “London Bridges.” The lessons that Rouse has learned over the years is evident as this is a rich album with layers of minimalist accompaniment that round out Rouse’s almost trademark aural glow. It’s the kind of performance that will continue to build his reputation as one of today’s best songwriters.

Key Tracks: “London Bridges,” “Hollywood Bassplayer,” “Sweetie”

“Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
3.5 out of 5 stars

To say that expectations were running high for Britt Daniel, Jim Eno and the rest of Spoon prior to this release is a bit of an understatement. Their last album (2005’s “Gimme Fiction”) could be defined as their breakout album and helped to significantly increase the band’s fan base.

My first impression of this wasn’t exceptional. I suppose that it was because I had developed a certain affection for “Gimme Fiction,” both in terms of the way the album sounded and the way the album flowed. But this presents the perfect example of my cardinal rule for listening to/reviewing music: always give everything at least a second chance.

It’s on the second listen that you begin to appreciate the subtleties that Daniel and Eno have thrown into the mix. Jagged guitars, space-filled arrangements and other eclectic instrumentation are scattered throughout this album along with some other flourishes.

The horn arrangements on the Jon Brion produced “The Underdog” are a nice touch. It’s also the second time around that you really begin to notice the lyrics themselves, which in places are the best Daniel has written. When it all comes down to it, this is a worthy follow-up to their last album and a fine addition to the band’s catalog.

Key Tracks: “Don’t Make Me A Target,” “Rhythm and Soul,” “Cherry Bomb”