CMJ Official Showcases 2002-2007
SXSW Official Showcases 2005 & 2008
NonCommvention Official Showcase 2005
Best DIY Album 2007 - Performing Songwriter for Spottiswoode & McMahon's debut, S&M
As heard nationally on:
World Cafe with David Dye
All Things Considered
XM Satellite Radio
“ (Spottiswoode's) moony, crooning voice, dripping with wasted elegance” and the band’s ability to “recall at various times the smoke-cured continental suavity of Serge Gainsbourg, the latter-day ethno-eclecticism of the Pogues, and the turbid moodiness of the Bad Seeds.” - Boston Phoenix
SPOTTISWOODE & HIS ENEMIES is fronted by the prolific English songwriter Jonathan Spottiswoode, who was recently dubbed a "downtown ringleader" by the New Yorker.
This merry band of seven amazingly talented misfits wows critics and audiences alike with their off-beat sophisticated style and wildly entertaining genre bending shows.
Spottiswoode has consistently indulged in an eclectic mayhem of styles. ( Don't say "eclectic" to Spottiswoode."We are Expressionists!" he insists.)
During an ongoing series of three sold out Enemies residencies at Joe’s Pub in New York City, audiences came to a Rock show one night, a Mediterranean romp the next, and returned for a Gospel show.
BUILDING A ROAD, a rock gospel album about the crooked road to redemption, was released in 2005, to much critical acclaim.
A national tour spawned nationwide press and airplay on Triple A radio including in studio on air performances, (WFUV, KUT, KCRW, WXPN, etc), as well as official showcases at SXSW, Triple A Non Commvention, and CMJ. Not to mention the Lille Festival in France, a sold out Bob Dylan tribute concert at Lincoln Center and several radio sponsored outdoor summer festivals.
In December 2007, Spottiswoode released not one, but two, new Enemies albums and celebrated the band's 10th Anniversary.
On THAT’S WHAT I LIKE, the wannabe playboy takes his Enemies to the Mediterranean. The result? A cocktail of hedonism and romance and heartbroken philosophy. A pop rock confection deliciously produced by Enemy #5 Riley McMahon.
THAT'S WHAT I LIKE features songs like the retro groove of "Skinny Little Girl", a tale of a little love and a little murderin "Olivia", the haunting waltz of "In the Pouring Rain" and the rock cabaret romp of the title cut, "That's What I Like."
SALVATION, is a mostly folksy collection of secular songs about love and redemption.
The Washington Post Express notes,
“Both [That's What I Like & Salavation] highlight Spottiswoode’s charmingly coarse baritone and conversational lyrics as well as a sparkling soundtrack from the dexterous Enemies, whose playing is technically cool but rife with embellishment and quirky colloquialism."
Spottiswoode is also a filmmaker whose short film,"The Gentleman" , which he also scored, screened at Sundance and airs frequently on IFC.
His songs are regularly licensed to TV and film projects and are widely covered by his musical peers.
In January, Performing Songwriter honored the breakout duo, Spottiswoode & McMahon, BEST DIY ALBUM 2007 for their debut album S&M.
Configurations from 1-7 players
Spottiswoode - Vocals, Guitar
Riley McMahon - Guitar, Mandolin, Glockenspiel
John Young - Bass
Tim Vail - Drums
Candace DeBartolo - Sax, Flute
Kevin Cordt - Trumpet,Violin
Tony Lauria - Piano,Organ, Accordion
*Airplay on Triple A & College radio and NPR including: KCRW, WFUV, WXPN, WFPK, KFOG, KMTT, KUT, XM and many more...
"Ugly Love" (1998)
A broody pop voyage through a continent of heartbreak and guilt. "Genius... astringently morose ballads about love... his deep, rough-hewn voice will make you think of Leonard Cohen." The New Yorker
"Spottiswoode & His Enemies" (2001)
Tom Waits meets David Bowie for a rock'n'roll show in an English cabaret theatre. "Brilliantly unreviewable, thick, disturbed and haunted. There are horn sections, off-kilter bass, roiling guitars, a man in a wedding dress …" Performing Songwriter Magazine
"Building A Road" (2005)
A drunken rock band takes a gospel choir on a crooked journey to redemption. Spottiswoode & His Enemies go deep. The six-piece, at the height of its powers, is joined by piano and gospel choir. What promises to be a catchy and playful romp becomes a haunting and beautiful confession.
"THAT’S WHAT I LIKE" ( 2007) a deluded playboy on a failed romp in the Mediterranean.
"SALVATION" (2007) a mostly folksy collection of secular redemption songs.
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"The Audience's Full Attention"
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"The Englishman has no trouble getting the audience's full attention with his stunningly well-phr...
"The Englishman has no trouble getting the audience's full attention with his stunningly well-phrased lyrics and seasoned, expressive voice. He sings like Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs, with the confessional romanticism of Leonard Cohen and Billy Bragg-like wit and clever narrative details.
The songs are about painful relationships, getting older and still struggling as a musician ('they say you're looking well, but there's a stain on your lapel'), women he's attracted to - 'Farmers' daughters, engineers' wives, girls who throw parties, girls who throw knives, spinsters who've made the most of their lives.' The whole lot, basically.
- Robin Vaughan
"Expect Drama From Spottiswoode"
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"Expect drama from Spottiswoode, a local boulevardier who writes jazzy little numbers in the manner ..."Expect drama from Spottiswoode, a local boulevardier who writes jazzy little numbers in the manner of a less dyspeptic Tindersticks, or NickCave without the heavy religious or homicidal impulses...Spottiswoode possesses a lovely crooning baritone...a cool, croaky voice that sounds as if he's leaning in close and singing especially to you.."
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"Jonathan Spottiswoode is downright weird. And that's meant as the sincerest of compliments. The how..."Jonathan Spottiswoode is downright weird. And that's meant as the sincerest of compliments. The howling, broken, Bone Machine-esque intro to "Rattle the Bars" sets the tone for this distinctly skewed record that could best be described as Peter Murphy and Jello Biafra leading the Velvet Underground through a panorama of Franz Kafka's worst nightmares. With the ghost of John Philip Sousa conducting.
Spottiswoode and his band, as well as this record, are nigh on impossible to categorize. They're brilliantly unreviewable, thick, disturbed and haunted. There are horn sections, off-kilter bass, roiling guitars, a man in a wedding dress …
Simultaneously inspiring and repellent, reveling in its pretentiousness, this record never takes itself too seriously but demands seriousness of its listener. This CD ranges from dark existentialist chaos to focused, almost-pretty balladry without betraying its singularly smart, tormented vision.
This is music to champion. Even if you're not quite sure why."
"Oompah Band On Crack"
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"A troubadour with a primitive yawp and a jones for performance art, Spottiswoode delivers libidinal..."A troubadour with a primitive yawp and a jones for performance art, Spottiswoode delivers libidinal punk rants and weirdo narratives like a horny, drug-addled Nick Cave. His Enemies, meanwhile, bang on found instuments and blow horns and suggest an oompah band on crack.."
"British Lad Making Good in the New World"
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"Best example of British lad making good in the New World: Well, the "lad" part may not stick for lo..."Best example of British lad making good in the New World: Well, the "lad" part may not stick for long, but Jonathan Spottiswoode, the sometime film-maker, oft-time rocker, and frontman for the astonishing, brilliant Spottiswoode and His Enemies, shows what happens when you import six feet of British wit, then decorate it with American cool."
- Denis Broyles
"Eccentricity and Madness"
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"There is a fine line between eccentricity and madness, a point where artistry becomes lunacy. Sp...
"There is a fine line between eccentricity and madness, a point where artistry becomes lunacy. Spottiswoode and His Enemies are at that point. Surely, they're on the edge of something: whether that's impending stardom or prescription drugs has yet to be determined. In any case, the band has a sound that you can't help but like, if only for its sheer entertainment value. The lyrics are filled with enigmatic vulgarity that escapes bad taste solely through Spottiswoode's own hypnotic voice. The man rarely rises above a whisper, lingering always just above a melodic, scratchy breath. He could be spewing poetic verse or inaffable madness -- it'd sound the same either way. He brags of schizophrenia, touts his insanity, and sings of depression. He is, in its rawest form, an artist, working his music like clay, molding and twisting words and sounds into something new. Different. There are pauses where you'd never expect them, voices used as sharp, shrieking instruments, and (did he mean to do that?) intermittent interactions with audience members. Not to say the music is haphazard; It isn't. Rather, it is both graceful and strange, beautiful and coarse, maniacal and brilliant. He has been compared to Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and David Bowie. His response: "Tom Waits would never do anything in bad taste; Leonard Cohen couldn't be upbeat if he tried; Nick Cave is a prisoner of his own tortured hipness; David Bowie hasn't uttered an honest word in his life." In New York City, where Spottiswoode collects his biggest fan base, frequent music guests bring added ingredients of harmonica, cello and saxophone and vocals to the rhythmic brew of the Enemies. Bottom line: if it's something different you want, you got it."
"Building A Road - Album Review"
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“From the title track’s Muscle Shoals R&B to the mariachi flavorings of Youngest Child…Building A...
“From the title track’s Muscle Shoals R&B to the mariachi flavorings of Youngest Child…Building A Road weaves a narrative of sybaritic living, a botched relationship and ultimately redemption, with Spottiswoode imparting his tales of hedonism and spirituality in a conversational baritone that recalls Leonard Cohen. Spottiswoode can be hilarious in the role of cad. His backhanded mea culpa in I Didn’t Hurt You Intentionally offers ‘She’s not your equal I’ve heard it said/But at least she forgives me when I mess with her head,’ and the slinky come-on Play Me In Your Bedroom asks that final favor of his estranged lover if she won’t take him back. Spottiswoode’s call-and-response with a smoldering gospel choir is among the disc’s greatest charms. More focused than his self-titled debut, Building A Road finds Spottiswoode still aiming for the grand gesture and increasingly hitting his mark.”
"Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick!"
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“When The Big Fella was handing out musical talent, tonight's headliners (a wonderfully masterf...
“When The Big Fella was handing out musical talent, tonight's headliners (a
wonderfully masterful and exhilarating offering from New York),
Spottiswoode & His Enemies looked his holy omnipotence in his
non-intervening eyes and cried out, "Hit me with your rhythm stick!"
Henceforth he struck them down upon this earth, whereupon they also sought
a deal with a musically-inclined lord of a different kind and a pained
subterranean mind. The lava coursing and pulsing through his veins burned
out their eyes, and in their tears a heavenly and satanic intermingled
music was made. This seven-piece featuring the (much in need of a hair cut)
English frontman Jonathan Spottiswoode, is a delicious range of
contradictions including: zydeco-backed Cohen-esque swamp rock; blooming
and brassy '70's-feeling Elvis Costello pop; Cash- and Cave-style anthems
with layers and layers of Hammond-style keyboard, pedal steel and mariachi
horns over rolling drums; laid-back jazz; swelling demonic Parisian cabaret
and even the unique and charismatic country rock of Neil Diamond.”
"Destined For Success"
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"A musical artist like Spottiswoode comes along far too rarely. This is pure ambrosia, destined for ..."A musical artist like Spottiswoode comes along far too rarely. This is pure ambrosia, destined for success in the cultish underground that spawns the thinking person's love affair with the likes of Divine Comedy, Tiger Lillies, Nick Cave, and The Fatima Mansions. The 17 tracks here shimmer in a haze of pulsing rhythms, baritone horns, sweet harmonies and confessional (sometimes unsettling) lyrical expression. Though it isn't a concept album, Spottiswoode & His Enemies essentially explores 17 ways to deconstruct heartache. Anchoring every song are the provocative and husky vocals of Jonathan Spottiswoode, a transplanted Londoner with several axes to grind. Stylish in both idea and execution, Spottiswoode is part storyteller, part social commentator, part lovesick Lothario. The songs veer seamlessly from the sonic primal scream ("Rattle the Bars") to the twisted fable ("Enfant Terrible") to delightfully surprising dance-hall romp ("What's The Point?"), and every track is brilliant in every way.
Even more compelling than the gorgeous orchestration --- take note particularly of the guitars and horns--- is the lyrical grace and drama. Masterful use of language yields delicious gems like 'She likes English accents and chocolate desserts/She takes pills for her diet and cheap cigarettes/And she is who she is but much more and much less/A tiara on speed who knows how to dress.' Androgynous insouciance, and as poetic as a glass of absinthe. Spottiswoode is, in a word, astonishing." Lexi Kahn
Live Review Washington Post
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Washington Post, Mike Joyce "Alternately moody and loopy...Spottiswoode has a vicsous, 40-watt...Washington Post, Mike Joyce
"Alternately moody and loopy...Spottiswoode has a vicsous, 40-watt baritone voice, pleanty of theatrical flair, and a stylistic reach broad enough to trigger a wave of flattering Breacht-to-Bowie comparisons."
45-90 minute sets