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.


I used to host an internet radio show in Gainesville–and since I’ve moved away I’ve missed doing that very much. Podcasting on your own turns out to be much harder than working with all the great equipment and coworkers at GrowRadio. So, I ask for your patience and hope for your interest in hearing me try to resume something that gives me great joy–compiling songs and stories. Let me know what you think, what works, what could be worked on. It’s a demo-heavy setlist from all over the last half-century and as Paul Westerberg says, it “rocks like murder.”

Track Listing:

  1. Introductions and Congratulations
  2. Bob Dylan & the Band – Banks of the Royal Canal (aka The Auld Triangle) (The Genuine Basement Tapes, Vol. 5) 1967
  3. Silkworm – The Old You (Italian Platinum) 2002
  4. Darkbuster (Lenny Lashley) – Cheap Wine (22 Songs That You’ll Never Want to Hear Again) 1999
  5. Bob Seger – Fire Lake (Against the Wind) 1980
  6. Talk about the Eagles
  7. The Silver Jews – Self-Ignition (Living Bridge Comp.) 2008
  8. Patsy Cline – Strange (Sentimentally Yours) 1961
  9. Gun Outfit – Another Human Being (Hard Coming Down) 2013
  10. Filthy Liars – Shot in the Dark (HFX Demo) 2013
  11. The Haints (Kepi Ghoulie) – Battle of Wounded Heart (Battle of Wounded Heart) 2007
  12. Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves – Never Have Time (Canyons) 2012
  13. Talk about LA Guns
  14. The Gun Club – Texas Serenade (Miami) 1982
  15. The Veronica Cartwrights – Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt (Broken Keys Comp.) 1997
  16. Bobby Charles – I Hope (The Jewel And Paula Recordings 1964-1965)
  17. Tony Flaminio – Bad Luck Song (The Grim Repair) 2012
  18. Animal City – Red Ice Cream, pt. 1 (Red Ice Cream) 2010
  19. Spider Bags – Waking Up Drunk (A Celebration of Hunger) 2007
  20. Talk about eating out hearts
  21. The Deadly Snakes – Oh, Lord, My Heart (Porcella) 2005
  22. Gravel – Yesterday (Yesterday 7″) 1991
  23. Crooked Fingers (Eric Bachmann) – New Drink for the Old Drunk (Crooked Fingers) 2000
  24. Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance – The Poacher – (Anymore for Anymore) 1974
  25. Franz Nicolay – Talk to Him in Shallow Water (Winter Demos) 2013
  26. Talk about the Crutchfield Takeover
  27. King Everything (Katie Crutchfield) – Now and Then (Demo II) 2009

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