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Spider Bags - A Celebration Of Hunger

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Artist: Spider Bags

Album: A Celebration Of Hunger

Label: Birdman

Review date: Jul. 25, 2007

Anyone sitting on a worn plaid couch drinking longnecks and waiting for a new Silver Jews record to drop could do worse than to pick up the debut record from Chapel Hill’s Spider Bags. A few shades less clever than Berman’s band – though not for lack of trying – the group approximates a similar style of rootless roots music by loping between hard-luck stories of lost phone numbers, numbing hangovers and misguided trifecta picks.

Led by drawling frontman Dan McGee, the Spider Bags are deceptively ramshackle in the sense that their rotating vocalists’ bleary-eyed pistol shots at pitch are offset by a sturdy bottom of slide guitar, organ and giddy-up percussion. Whoever’s playing lead electric was clearly weaned, if not on the Replacements, then on the slew of Chapel Hill bands that refracted their sound during the indie rock explosion of the early ’90s. The Spider Bags locate their identity by running that particular current of electricity through country music’s liquor-soaked puddle of self-loathing and reveling in it.

If you’re thinking that you’ve heard this before, you’re basically right – there’s a full roster of Bloodshot bands hitting this nail very squarely on the head already. The main trouble with the Spider Bags is that they don’t add very much to the old equation – there’s nothing like the Mekons’ dub, or the Silver Jews’ witticisms, to differentiate them from your garden-variety alt-country band. Of course, these things can evolve in time, and A Celebration of Hunger does reveal an outfit that’s got its fundamentals covered. Lead single “Waking Up Drunk” boasts a bottle-hoisting chorus that roots itself deep in the brain, while “Blood For You” froths up into a four-to-the-floor jam that makes being broke and unhappy sound like something to strive for.

One of the upshots to A Celebration of Hunger is that the quality that starts to drag on record – the narrowness of the countrified rock trappings – is probably what makes the Spider Bags a great bar band. It takes a certain type of act to make you want to traipse down snowy sidewalks on a Tuesday to see music – something that sounds good against cheap drinks and the knowledge your alarm’s going off at seven the next morning. Lurching back and forth between hard-drinking anthems and shit-kicking stomps, it’s easy to imagine the Spider Bags being one of those bands.

By Nathan Hogan

Other Reviews of Spider Bags

Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Cruel World

Shake My Head

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