Published Nov 23, 2009On their most artfully crafted album to date, New York's Heavy Trash go beyond the barroom blitz they're known for and produce a multilayered, rockabilly feat. Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray know they've got style in spades, so virtually any song they write together is bound to ooze attitude. On Midnight Soul Serenade, the duo continue to accomplish more than simply capturing their manic live show in the studio. From the giddily earnest "Gee, I Really Love You" to Verta-Ray's surprising and effective lead turn on "Good Man" and dark, meandering spoken word piece "The Pill," Heavy Trash experiment with tones, textures and arrangements in a manner that muddled the message on their last effort. But they're revelatory here because they sell rockabilly as a mutt that can lead the pack. "Evolution is too slow," Spencer bellows during the raucous "(Sometimes You Got to Be) Gentle," daring the world to pay close attention to what he and Verta-Ray are brewing up. It's always heartening when rock'n'roll puritans can tweak their sound without compromising the essence of what makes them so vital, and on Midnight Soul Serenade, Heavy Trash do just that.
Did the studio impact your songwriting here?
Spencer: For some songs perhaps but, as a whole, the writing process wasn't so different than the other albums. Matt and I would write by just getting together and playing. You're right in that we did try and push things a bit; we wanted to challenge ourselves and the listener with the kind of songs we put on the record and the way we mixed them. For me, I like to do something new every time.
Has Matt been itching to sing in Heavy Trash?
I don't know if there was a lot of itching involved but it's a great song so we're very happy with the way it came out. Isn't that always nice when your favourite band lets someone else sing?
Did he surprise you with production ideas?
Yeah, Matt had done work with vocal groups and it was interesting. Like the background vocals on "That's What Your Love will Get." It's kind of a Jordanaires-style vocal. Matt will sometimes work on his own so, if I'm out of town or getting my nails done or something, Matt will add something new. (Fat Possum)