After the deliciously sticky release of Shake My Head last year, Chuchkey Records gathered up a collection of obscure singles to revive several specific sets of sound by the ever- changing crew. Three of the six 45s mined for the new collection, for example, were recorded during a period of frenzied creativity with Rock Forbes (drums) and Gregg Levy (formerly bass).
This period happened mostly on the road immediately following Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World (2009) when the trio had taken to touring in an old Mitsubishi Mirage. According to the releasing label, it was Forbes who was relegated to the back with the gear. It's the same on stage.
Singles by Spider Bags catches the band's progression.
As the story goes, McGee took a break from working on albums and challenged himself to write and record two songs at a time, which largely explained the gap between releases. Some of these singles even foreshadowed the lineup change to come as McGee had cut three of them with multi-instrumentalist Steve Oliva.
The collection opens with Teenage Eyes, which is quick two-and-a-half minute burst indiscriminate garage rock. It sounds much like its inspiration. The song is a rollicking roadhouse tune, an amazingly straightforward sampling that eventually breaks apart in a frantically fun burst of noise.
A tamer version of the track appeared on YouTube a few years ago. The studio version is superior, but there is no mistaking the personality of McGee on stage or the impact of these ripping bursts of rock during live performances.
Very much in line with Teenage Eyes is Walking Walking Nowhere Nowhere. It has the same twang and looseness but with a gang chorus that also puts some punk excitement into the mix. The energy packed into short confines of the song hints at a different direction that never really happened.
Instead, McGee leads Spider Bags down a much more psychedelic meandering with Dog In The Snow offering up a foreshadow of Shake My Head, but with much more grit than the white collar comfort he would eventually stitch into songs like Queztacotl Love Song. Enjoy the kraut-like bass lines.
The bottom half of the release is outrageously exciting.
Although many tracks are immediately different (and yet somehow still familiar), it's the back half of the album that is the most interesting. Almost every track following the broody anti-ballad I Wish That I Never Had Fed You paints McGee as a tavern darling with a little bit of everything ranging from alternative folk to straightforward balls-out rockers.
Spend some extra time with Take It Easy Tonight, which benefits from the addition of a sax solo by Ben Riseling (The Wigg Report). This is the same track that McGee has taken through dozens of renderings. Even the studio version took several takes to get it right. As it stands, it can't be copied with the same effect.
In thinking about it, perhaps that is precisely what makes Spider Bags rock. McGee comes across as a slacker at times, playing fast and loose with reckless abandon. But he never really does. Noise as good as the kind McGee and company crank out doesn't happen by accident.
Singles By Spider Bags Sticks 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Singles by Spider Bags is different and perhaps a little less perfected than Shake My Head, but no less enjoyable or brilliant. Listening to it is like a potato chip. You know you shouldn't sample just one at your desk, but you will and almost immediately want the rest of the day off.
Singles by Spider Bags was released on Amazon. You can also find the collection on iTunes. The entire set of 7-inchers are also up as a vinyl edition on Barnes &Noble. The band just recently added a Facebook page.