Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings
Yesterday, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion announced their return after an eight year break. A new album called Meat and Bone is on the way and you can grab the new song “Black Mold” right now. To mark the occassion, here’s our favorite moments in the Jon Spencer videography that illustrate the specific marriage rock and weird that only he knew how to bring.
The Blues Explosion were always an impressively hard-rocking band that were at least half a decade ahead of its time – look to what Jack White and the Black Keys did with the formula that Spencer came up with in the ’90s for proof. But they were also awfully weird, and that was never more apparent than on this totally random ode to ’70s pants. A lot of cultural trends of the ‘00s and beyond were inspired by the Blues Explosion, but those guys never predicted skinny jeans.
2. “Talk About the Blues”
In the ’90s, Jon Spencer was an especially androgynous-looking white bluesman. So androgynous that it made sense for Winona Ryder to play him in this video. (Fun-fact: Spencer is on the short list of musicians from the ’90s with whom Ryder has never been romantically linked.) Other star turns include John C. Reilly as drummer Russell Simins and Giovanni Ribisi as guitar player Judah Bauer.
3. “Hot Gossip”
For 2004’s Damage, the Blues Explosion shortened their name, dropping the “Jon Spencer” part of the band’s title, and appeared rejuvenated. That was never more clear than on “Hot Gossip,” a straight-ahead rocker that saw a surprisingly youthful-sounding Chuck D sit in with the band to play hype man and drop the same sort of nonsensical lyrical bon mots that Spencer built the Blues Explosion brand on.
The Blues Explosion were never really a pop band, but “Dang” is especially abrasive for a single, full of fuzzed-out yowling and punky breakdowns. The rad Plan 9 From Outer Space-style visuals in the video seem to complement that perfectly, though.
Who else does a cult rock band in 1997 turn to when they need someone to direct a music video besides “Weird Al” Yankovic? It’s a beautiful meeting of minds on the “Wail” video, with the band gyrating over trippy, psychedelic spirals, popping out of toilets, covered in paint, dancing the “Macarena,” and generally looking like they had a real fun couple days on the set with Weird Al.