A blast of fuzz guitar and dirty synth welcomes us to Junk Man, the opening track from Spencer Gets It Lit, the debut album proper from Jon Spencer And The HITmakers (following the solo album, but largely featuring the same band members, Spencer Sings The Hits), the latest project from the Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, Pussy Galore, et al frontman.
Spencer (guitar and vocals, or ‘Bark Twang’) is joined here by Sam Coomes (synth and vocal, or ‘Bleep Shout’), M. Sord (drums, or ‘Boom Bap’) and Bob Bert (trash, or ‘Crash Bang’) to create a sound that, in many ways, harks back to various touchstones from his career from industrial noise to garage rock.
The aforementioned Junk Man starts things off in relatively straightforward, garage punk, fashion with some great organ type sounds, driving bass lines and guitar and fine rock ‘n’ roll groove, but in many ways this, along with Get It Right Now, feel designed to lull us into a false sense of security.
From Death Ray onwards it all gets somewhat more angular and obscure but with just enough of that old school rock ‘n’ roll feel to pull it all together with further highlights coming in the atmospheric Worm Town, Layabout Trap, When Push Comes To Shove and Get Up & Do It.
Across the record Spencer switches from sounding like a kind of crazed delta bluesman to an old school radio DJ while the rest of the band feel much more a part of proceedings than on the last record not just due to the vocal additions by Coomes but also the way their respective instruments are layered up to create a deep and constantly surprising sound – only added to as it jumps from side to side in the mix to such a degree that I’d be worried of anyone listening to this while driving if they had decent stereo in the car.
Jon Spencer And The HITmakers rage, groove and get deep down and dark across 15 tracks (on the CD version, 13 elsewhere it seems) on Spencer Gets It Lit sounding like the deranged amalgam of Iggy And The Stooges, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Einstürzende Neubauten and Jack White, but with even fewer fucks given about it all than any of them may have had, making for some top notch loud and heavy garage trash with no apologies or concessions, and I can only imagine it sounds excellently jarring and awkward live, while also sounding great on record.