Midnight Soul Serenade

by Lisa Kirchner

Rockabilly has always been a prime ingredient in Jon Spencer’s stew, but it wasn’t until forming Heavy Trash with Matt Verta-Ray that it moved front and center.

Spencer and Verta-Ray weren’t kidding when they named this album Midnight Soul Serenade, as its balance sounds like it was beamed in from an old radio station that broadcasts only in the wee hours. This is exactly what you’d want to be listening to if you were necking with someone at Lookout Point on an unseasonably warm night. Opener “Gee, I Really Love You” sets the tone with Spencer’s unhinged yowl, framed by a classic high-school-gymnasium dance number, all ballroom rhythms, tinkling pianos, and a scratch of guitars. “Bumble Bee” is rollicking western cowboy rock, feverish and galloping like a Link Wray outtake. Perhaps best exemplifying Midnight is story-song “The Pill”—with a high, lonesome-desert vibe, it’s like a Sun Records 45 melting in the noontime heat.

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