I watched a documentary on sommeliers the other day I liked their system of describing and identifying wines by working their way through a tasting grid that accounts for a wine’s clarity, brightness, color, earthiness, alcohol, intensity, “gas evidence.” Seems like the same criteria needed to describe rock music. And it’s a good context to use elevated nonmusical descriptors to talk about music. Here’s an inductive tasting of the latest album from North Carolina’s Spider Bags.


Clarity: overcast vocals and thunderous drums support a nimbus halo of guitars

Brightness: it’s dim because it’s supposed to be spewing from a garage, but noonly shimmers break in through songs like “Walking Bubble”

Color: for me, gem-tones are the ultimate synesthetic quality for music; this one ranges from the clay-burgundies of the Dexateens and Slobberbone to the canyon-purples of Hendrix and Roky Erickson to the forest-floor-emeralds of Girl Trouble and The Sonics.

Viscosity: the first four songs slip by in under a twelve minutes, more mainlining than swallowing. Then the shit honeys-up to heaven and the next four songs take up twice as much time. It flows great.


Intensity: like a heatwave battling an unleashed fire hydrant, motherfucker

Fruit aromas: I have a very imprecise sense of smell, but I’m getting sauteed cherries–greasy, sweet.

Earthiness: plucky borax-based minerality–alkaline, sweet. Sweeping overtones of mushrooms.


Sweetness: “I’m tired over your love.” “Just flesh on top and bone beneath.”

Body: plump, chrome, swaying and collapsing

Alcohol: yes

Complexity: it’s simpler than the grid portrays. It’s country-infused garage rock.

Initial Conclusion: I feel like I’ve been tied up in a freshly sewn sack of a lovely canvas-hemp blend and beaten with a baseball bat made from the finest ash (can still smell the saw cuts) and shallow-buried in a pine forest early in the morning (while the mists are still loitering). By the time the album ends it’s midday (maybe a week later) and I’m cooked alive and there’s lots of dog and bear piss on my head.

Final Conclusion: What a great feeling. Essential Listening.

Summer Of ’79 (John Wesley Coleman cover)
We Got Problems
Walking Bubble

Grab it on all formats and at the best price from Merge Records. Keep up with Spider Bags on Facebook.

Author: Mike Ostrov

Mike Ostrov relays the history of popular song on message boards and under rocks.


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