7 and 7 Is

December 3, 1999:

7 & 7 Is

... is nearly five inches of plastic in the case of Spoon's new CD single, the long-promised and long-awaited "The Agony of Laffitte" b/w "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now." The local trio's first release since being unceremoniously dropped by Elektra Records last fall -- after putting out the brilliant A Series of Sneaks -- this two-song tribute to the group's onetime major-label A&R rep, Ron Laffitte, was produced by Spoonman Britt Daniel in a January, 1999, Chronicle cover story. Eleven months later, Omaha's Saddle Creek label has made good on Daniel's promise, the singer's trademark just-had-my-wisdom-teeth-removed warble intact as he four-track strums on "The Agony of Laffitte" ("it's like I knew two of you of man, the one before and after we shook hands"), which ends with the refrain, "no better than Sylvia," as in Sylvia Rhone, president of Elektra. The flip, "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now" is musically more engaging, the familiar Spoon riffing sounding somehow like "Jesus Is Just Alright," the plea here being, "all I want to know is are you ever honest with anyone?" Not the band's best work by any means, but priceless for fans who have followed Spoon's storied saga... Almost as storied in 1999, Austin's Knife in the Water follow up their well-received local debut, Plays One Sound and Others, with a pair of blue-vinyl sleepy treats on "Redbird" b/w "Slavery" (Western Vinyl). Neither are songs that'll leave you cursing their exclusion from the band's winning full-length, but neither would they be out of place among the band's gently-smiling Giant Sand-goes-Bedhead sound... On the other hand, the problem with beautifully colored vinyl, gray in the case of The Put-Downs' "No Sleep" single (Little Deputy), is that you can't tell if or how badly your petroleum product is scratched, and in this case of this four-song punkfest, the answers were "yes" and "bad." Not that it makes much difference on this par-for-the-course Tim Kerr@Sweatbox-produced splatter brought to you by Paul "Used to be a Motard" J. and two other blokes from "Boremont," Texas... Downright sophomoric would be one way to describe The Beach Birds' contribution to Peek-a-Boo's recent split single with the purring locals in Roar! Lion. The former act gets two cuts of nerdy silliness, while the kitty, whose lead vocals rub up against you on Roar! Lion's "Melting Ice Cream," does just that. Another scoop, please.

Saddle Creek: PO Box 8554, Omaha, NE 68108-0554, http://www.saddle-creek.com; Western Vinyl: 3116 Wayfarer, Bedford, TX 76021, http://pages.hotbot.com/biz/westernvinyl; Peek-a-Boo: PO Box 49542, Austin, TX 78765; Little Deputy: PO Box 7066, Austin, TX 78713-7066

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