Jon Spencer – Spencer Sings The Hits

Jon Spencer - Sings The Hits - album coverHaving made his name with a number of bands over the last three decades, most notably as leader of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Spencer Sings The Hits is then first ‘solo’ release from this somewhat elder statesman of modern garage rock – given that, it is in many ways exactly what you’d expect.

Across the record’s twelve tracks, which barrel along at a suitably punky pace, you get pretty much every thing you’d expect with noisy, fuzzed up guitars leading the charge and rhythms you can just picture GoGo Girls dancing to, and in that it’s all very satisfying.

It’s on repeated listens that Spencer Sings The Hits Really comes into own though.

Spencer’s band here (dubbed, on tour at least, as The HITmakers), are a trio completed by M. Sord and Sam Coomes but they are far from the standard garage or power blues trio, even though they create that kind of sound brilliantly.

Jon Spencer
Jon Spencer

While Sord plays fairly standard drums, rather than bass Coomes plays synths. At points these do provide the musical low-end, in excellently bowel rumbling fashion, but at others that duty goes to Spencer’s guitar as the synth sounds come across more.

In this some parts have the standard garage rock organ feel while at others it heads into almost dark wave synthesiser territory adding a very different side to the garage blues template.

As well as the guitar and vocals Spencer is also credited as playing ‘trash’ (a role filled by Bob Bert when the band play live as on their recent U.K. tour with the Melvins).

This adds a clanging and banging aspect to the sound, on top of the drums, that brings gives industrial feel to proceedings, a little as if Einstürzende Neubauten decided to make an album covering The Fuzztones.

While two tracks in particular stand out as the kind that could reach a wider audience, Do The Trash Can and I Got The Hits, the mix of styles that weave their way through the rest of the record render it equally as satisfying, particularly on Overload, Ghost and Cape.

Jon Spencer and the HITmakers at Concorde 2
Jon Spencer and the HITmakers

At one point Spencer even describes it as ‘rockabilly disco punk soul’ (on Wilderness) and that does about as good as describing what’s going on as anyone could (after all he should know), but ultimately it’s the kind of mish-mash of sounds that has to be experienced being at once exactly what one would expect while having a far greater sonic depth to it that really pays off repeated listens far more than you might first expect.

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