Music

Kind of Like Spitting: The Thrill of the Hunt

Evan Sawdey

The hunt may be short, but damn is it worthwhile.


Kind of Like Spitting

The Thrill of the Hunt

Label: Redder
US Release Date: 2006-02-14
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Some bands will perpetually fly under the radar, no matter how hard they try; indie gurus who you'll never hear about. Ben Barnett seems relegated to that status, and that's a real tragedy. Since 2000, under the name Kind of Like Spitting, he's released eight albums (nine if you count his re-recordings of early work). He flirted briefly with more "mainstream" indie with his 2002 release on Barsuk records, Bridges Worth Burning, featuring various guest appearances by the members of Death Cab for Cutie (Gibbard pounds the drums!). Barnett retains that connection on his latest release, "the thrill of the hunt", with uber-producer Chris Walla tackling half the tracks, all originals. About a third of the album is covers, but the whole thing is wonderful.

Another mostly stripped-down acoustic affair, Barnett lets his lyrics speak for themselves. "She's bright / and you're bleak" are the words that open the title track, a brisk piano number that remains both sad and happy at the same time. The beautiful throwback folk of "Hands" receives the same treatment. The somewhat self-deprecating song references how Ben himself isn't getting anything accomplished by writing a catchy melody, spouting out self-discoveries instead of angsty bombast: "It's a choice to just react / I've got to learn that lesson for the rest of my life". Though Barnett's love of B2K (or at least irony) may be questioned by titling a song "You Got Served", it proves to be another brilliant acoustic ballad. Lyrically, Barnett can switch between Gibbard-like emotional clarity and a bit-too-wordy syndrome, but his simple, lightly scratched voice carries enough conviction to convince you of any line.

Occasionally, and sadly, >"the thrill of the hunt" doesn't have much thrill. "Middle" is pleasant but not as cathartic as the title track. Worst of all is the heavy late-night downer "Holding Patterns". Over bleak piano and low-key guitar, the story of a reaction to the death of a friend is sincere, but lacking the direct emotional punch of his earlier efforts, occasionally wading into the oh-so-dreaded waters of pretentiousness. The details of remembrance are accurate (mix-tapes, sweaters, high phone-calls), but lines like "I remember so much life for you" come across as clichéd, painful all the more knowing Barnett is shooting from the heart.

Fortunately, the album's flaws are overshadowed by a quartet of absolutely brilliant covers. Front-loaded with the best, his take on Bad Religion's "You" is furious and blistering. With nothing but guitar and vocal, Barnett rips into it with adrenaline and intensity, serving as a brilliant accompaniment to the original. Leon Russell's "A Song for You" also gets a Spitting good makeover, making it seem like the archetype for any good emo song you've heard. A bouncy, but passable take of Dean Martin's "Lay Some Happiness on Me" is welcome, but the big folk-guitar fireworks are saved for the closing cut: a take on Big Star's "Thirteen". Played almost like a low-key version of the White Stripes' "I Just Know We're Going to Be Friends", Barnett retains the melody and adds a bit more warmth to the already excellent original pop version, like a warm hug goodnight after a good date.

If there's any major downside to the latest Spit mark, it's that it's too brief, clocking in at barely over 30 minutes. The hunt may be short, but damn is it worthwhile.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image