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
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.