Butch Walker and the Black Widows - The Spade
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Record Label: Dangerbird Records
Throughout his prolific career, Butch Walker has become more and more sought-after as a producer. His latest release with the Black Widows, the pop-tinged, rock-and-roll based The Spade, is a collection of reasons why. It’s tough to imagine why any band or artist would pass over a chance to work with Walker after hearing this release. Combining an overt rock-star being with a catchiness that should put generic pop-rock bands to shame, The Spade might not be the deepest or most complex release from Walker, but it’s probably his most jam-worthy.
If you’re a fan of Walker’s more introspective side, you might be better off sticking to 2008’s Sycamore Meadows or last year’s I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart. Both of those records were standouts in their respective years of releases, and The Spade proves to be a standout this year as well, but for different reasons. While Walker’s lyrical content is more relaxed and playful in nature, that content directly matches the shift of his musicianship on The Spade. Most of the album’s 10 tracks are packed with a high-energy demeanor, and all of them are laden with hooks galore.
Not only do these hooks hit home, as proven from the get-go with opener “Bodegas and Blood,” but the catchiness of this record is consistent and seemingly unlimited. Even when songs don’t fully hit the mark, like “Every Single Body Else,” they’re still incredibly easy to listen to. The laid-back feel of the album is brought out even more by the laughter and short conversation at the ends of songs, and when listeners hear the explosive first single “Summer of ’89,” it’s just impossible to not relish the feel-good vibes that The Spade brings on. It’s certainly a fun, summertime record released near the end of the season, but clever one-liners like, “Nobody knew Bryan Adams wasn’t cool / The TV just told me he was,” won’t grow stale when the temperature drops.
Describing each of the tracks on The Spade is a purposeless endeavor – while the album doesn’t really bleed together, the songs all execute the same idea. They’re all supremely easy on the ears, very well produced and could all be radio numbers, especially the bouncy “Synthesizers” or the chaotic party that is album standout “Bullet Belt.” Songs where Walker gets a little more personal in the lyricism (“Day Drunk” and the slow-tempo “Closest Thing To You I’m Gonna Find”) land well also.
The Spade is catchy enough that other pop artists should almost be frightened. Walker seemingly writes ridiculously soaring pop hooks as easily as you or I drink water. This record puts to shame many of the highly advertised pop albums this year, and it does so with resounding force. While The Spade certainly isn’t Walker’s best effort and may not have as much lasting value as some of his past releases, it makes a statement of a songwriter completely owning what he wanted to create.
1. Letters (Try listen to these songs in their live versions... thats pure magic)
2. The Spade
3. Sycamore Meadows
4. Hey! Album (Marvelous 3)
5. Ready Sex Go (Marvelous 3)
6. I Liked It Better...
7. Maya (1969)
8. Left Of Self-centered
9. Rise And Fall
Left of Self-Centered
Hey! Album (from Marvelous 3)
ReadySexGo (from Marvelous 3)
The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites
agree'd with this one. his first 2 solo albums take the cake. i'd put sycamroe meadows above rise and fall though. very introspective lyrically. also, if you wanna do yourself a favor, buy the "like at the budokan" and watch the acoustic set. incredible.