The members of New York City's Plastic Spoon write pop songs about money. Global aging, the prison-industrial complex, Karl Marx, billionaire David Koch — the subject matter isn't exactly light, but the melodies are.
This sort of contortion of the norm is ... well, the norm for these musicians. Karen Mantler (voice, harmonica), Kato Hideki (bass), Doug Wieselman (guitar) and Shahzad Ismaily (drums) have played with everybody from Lou Reed to John Zorn to Bruce Springsteen to the New York City Ballet. Each member has been pushing musical boundaries for years. As a group, though, they rein in the experimentation and boost the fun factor.
Hideki started Plastic Spoon and, along with Mantler, writes the songs. As he tells us in this session's interview, Hideki asked each band member to play anything but their primary instrument — and to attack it with teenage enthusiasm. The strategy was designed to bring immediacy and fun to the music.
It works. The band clearly did have fun in the WNYC studio, and its songs are as playful as they are smart. Lend an ear — one ear is enough, because Plastic Spoon demands that its music be heard in mono.