Blues Explosion Offers New Cuts At Surprise Gig

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion previewed a slew of new songs during a surprise gig last night (Sept. 14) at the Mercury Lounge in New York.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion previewed a slew of new songs during a surprise gig last night (Sept. 14) at the Mercury Lounge in New York. Among the tracks performed were "Hot Gossip," "Mars Arizona," "Don't Smile," "Been My Baby," "Help These Blues," "Grindin'" and "Halftime Loser" (all are working titles). The band also played oldies such as "Bell Bottoms" and "Afro," the latter delivered seconds after an audience member requested it.

The show was a makeshift warm-up for a five-date European tour, which begins Sept. 17 in Tilburg, Holland. The band slipped onto the bill, which featured friends in the Flash Express, after the original headliner dropped off.

The new songs constitute a fraction of the new material the band has been demoing in drummer Russell Simins' Manhattan studio. The songs played last night "were either the oldest [or] the ones that have been the most flushed out, but there's a bunch more material that we're focusing on over the next several months that's as important, if not more important to us," he tells Billboard.com. "We just haven't gotten around to that point yet, where we're comfortable enough to play [them] out live yet."

The upcoming album is the follow-up to 2002's "Plastic Fang" (Matador), which debuted at No. 14 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart. Producer Steve Jordan, who helmed "Plastic Fang," has been helping out with pre-production, but Simins notes that the band has yet to pick a final producer for the album.

"With the last record, which I think he did an amazing job on, we became good friends, and he became almost like a part of the band, and we trust him a lot," Simins says of Jordan. "He's just been kind of helping us a lot. We really feel comfortable working with him the studio, [but] whether or not he's going to be the producer is still unsure. There's a bunch of other names that have been tossed around."

It's also unclear at this point what label will issue the set. "We're not committed to anybody -- we've always done one-offs with Matador," says Simins. "We're not under contract to anybody so we're just keeping our options open. That's another thing we're in the process of figuring out."