I actually kind of really love this. Obviously a strong influence on Rob Crow's early stuff (Heavy Vegetable, Thingy). I've never been real big on the more chaotic-sounding math rock but this is just laid back enough for it to be totally satisfying.
Getting pretty stoked for this thread over the next couple months.
I'm almost positive someone has asked you this before, but have you ever been to rock-trivia/won the fuck out of rock trivia?
No but seriously, it may just be with the more obscure/independent/underground type of music, but people on here mention an artist, and then you come in and seem to know their life story and discography off the top of your head.
Precisely the type of knowledge that would kick ass at rock trivia.
One more word on Spiderland - I've listened to it three or four times in the last week, and I can't get past the same underwhelming feeling I got the first time I heard it. For an album with such a massive reputation (and it is seriously massive), it's not the flawless record you'd expect. There are lazily executed ideas ("For Dinner..." which is a fun track to listen to but bands have done so much more with that song's sound than Slint did), and the vocals always sound a little angsty to me, a little emo in the middle of all that prog. The whispered "I miss you" in "Good Morning Captain" strikes a nerve with me.
But "Nosferatu Man" and "Good Morning Captain" are awesome tracks, and I think that the idea that this is a collection of songs rather than a shitty prog concept album is what was so revolutionary about Slint.
I've got my album all ready for tomorrow. It might not be a surprise to some (I bet Know could guess it) but hopefully it's an album that many, or several, of you haven't listened to.
Could your pick accurately be described as dad rock?
re: Spiderland, I'm glad to hear everyone's thoughts on the album and I guess I'll just say that it's the kind of album that either clicks or it doesn't. I've listened to it too many times to count and the vocals don't bother me at all anymore but I see exactly where everyone is coming from. Part of what is exciting about the album is that even though it's 20 years old there really isn't anything else that sounds like it. The guitars in this record sound so sharp and spidery (it's where the album gets it's name) and the songs build in a beautiful way.
Horned Gramma kind of touched on one thing that I love about the album which is that it is Math Rock but they have been able to give it a bit of personality. Stuff like Don Cab or Hella are interesting enough to me but they're very impersonal records, angular for the sake of being angular. Spiderland is the way it is to evoke a specific feeling (in my mind that feeling is walking alone in a dark woods or stranded on a desert island). I don't think I have any other albums that work better when I close my eyes and zone out to them.
I posted this when I originally picked the album but I'll repost it in case anyone hasn't read it since hearing the album. This review sums up my feelings on spiderland perfectly but it's also shocking in how much of the indie landscape Albini described 2 decades ago still applies.
Since about 1980, America has been host to an ever-increasing parasitic infestation of rock bands of ever-dwindling originality. It seems there is no one left on the continent with an aspiration to play guitar that hasn't formed a band and released a record. And that record sounds a little bit like Dinosaur Jr.
Trust me on this; all but maybe three of those records are pure bullshit.
My primary association with rock music is that I am a fan of it, though listening to the aforementioned nearly killed that. In its best state, rock music invigorates me, changes my mood, triggers introspection or envelopes me with sheer sound. Spiderland does all those things, simultaneously and in turns, more than any records I can think of in five years.
Spiderland is, unfortunately, Slint's swansong, the band having succumbed to the internal pressures which eventually punctuate all bands' biographies. It's an amazing record though, and no one still capable of being moved by rock music should miss it. In 10 years it will be a landmark and you'll have to scramble to buy a copy then. Beat the rush.
Slint formed in 1986 as an outlet and pastime for four friends from Louisville, Kentucky. Their music was strange, wholly their own, sparse and tight. What immediately set them apart was their economy and precision. Slint was that rare band willing to play just one or two notes at a time and sometimes nothing at all. Their only other recording, 1989's Tweez hints at their genius, but only a couple of the tracks have anything like the staying power of Spiderland.
Spiderland is a majestic album, sublime and strange, made more brilliant by its simplicity and quiet grace. Songs evolve and expand from simple statements that are inverted and truncated in a manner that seems spontaneous, but is so precise and emphatic that it must be intuitive or orchestrated or both.
Straining to find a band to compare them with, I can only think of two, and Slint doesn't sound anything like either of them. Structurally and in tone, they recall Television circa Marquee Moon and Crazy Horse, whose simplicity they echo and whose style they most certainly do not.
To whom would Pere Ubu or Chrome have been compared in 1972? Forgive me, I am equally clueless.
Slint's music has always been primarily instrumental, and Spiderland isn't a radical departure, but the few vocals are among the most pungent of any album around. When I first heard Brian McMahan whisper the pathetic words to "Washer", I was embarrased for him. When I listened to the song again, the content eluded me and I was staggered by the sophistication and subtle beauty of the phrasing. The third time, the story made me sad nearly to tears. Genius.
Spiderland is flawless. The dry, unembellished recording is so revealing it sometimes feels like eavesdropping. The crystalline guitar of Brian McMahan and the glassy, fluid guitar of David Pajo seem to hover in space directly past the listener's nose. The incredibly precise-yet-instinctive drumming has the same range and wallop it would in your living room.
Only two other bands have meant as much to me as Slint in the past few years and only one of them, The Jesus Lizard, have made a record this good. We are in a time of midgets: dance music, three varieties of simple-minded hard rock genre crap, soulless-crooning, infantile slogan-studded rap and ball-less balladeering. My instincts tell me the dry spell will continue for a while - possibly until the bands Slint will inspire reach maturity. Until then, play this record and kick yourself if you never got to see them live. In ten years, you'll lie like the cocksucker you are and say you did anyway.
Ten fucking stars.
edit: I forgot to add that anyone who liked the instrumentals but not the vocals should check out their debut album Tweez. It's not quite as good as spiderland but it does sound similar but doesn't have very many vocals
My goodness, thank you Cbats for finally making me listen to that album. It's one of those that's been on my list to listen to but just never got around to listen to.
Also, it's really good to listen to while playing Mad Monster Mansion on Banjo Kazooie (yeah, I took a break from the glorious Banjo Kazooie music).
Anywho, I guess it helped that I went into this with semi-low expectations thanks to the lukewarm reactions the other boarders posted, but man, I'm completely in love with this album.
It takes all my favorite moments of Godspeed, Sonic Youth's SYR series, and Pavement and put them in the blender. And, I realize nobody probably feels the same, but Spiderland is kinda what I always wished Explosions was while listening to Explosions (and don't get me wrong, I fucking love Explosions in the Sky).
I love the spoken vocals. Give it a perfect touch. I also agree a lot with Stevie's review.
Also definitely this: "Horned Gramma kind of touched on one thing that I love about the album which is that it is Math Rock but they have been able to give it a bit of personality."
I started discovering Elephant 6 artists my first two years of high school, and it was a perfect fit. I had already fallen in love with my sister's twee shit, I was well-versed in the British invasion and classic rock, and I was just branching out into some weirder stuff. I started where, I'm sure, most people start: Neutral Milk Hotel. My friend Sam would play "Oh Comely" on his guitar at parties to weird people out (like, the opposite of the guy at the party playing Jack Johnson songs). I listened to a lot of old of Montreal, Elf Power, Beulah, and Apples in Stereo, among many others. But Olivia Tremor Control was my favorite - the idea of writing the score to an unmade movie ("Dusk at Cubist Castle"), songs about California floating off into the Pacific Ocean (ironic now that I live in California). It was all I needed.
As I'm sure you know, Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss were the main songwriters for Olivia Tremor Control. They had one insane shared vision that lasted for about two albums worth of incredible material, but the beauty of the collective is that they could go their own ways with relatively little stress. Doss went and did Chocolate USA and Sunshine Fix, to mixed results, but Hart wasn't really finished with the sound they had started with Olivia Tremor Control. So he basically got the rest of that band together, had some help from Jeff Mangum (you think Mangum is a recluse, Hart's easily in the same league) and made Circulatory System.
Basically, this sounds like an unsmiling Olivia Tremor Control album - every lyric, every chord progression, has a sort of bleakness to it. Even when Hart sings (in his breathy, semi-choked voice), "It's a lovely universe," it sounds tongue-in-cheek. This is unabashedly cryptic material.
But it's also totally beautiful. The Beach Boys touchstones are undeniable. The album is tethered with a melodic bass, and Hart's psychy guitars whirl through every track. The other thing that makes the album so beautiful is the layers on layers of sounds - some songs layer dozens of tracks. It seems like there are always crickets chirping or rain falling in the background, or some bird noises and static fuzz. That's not to mention the amount of instruments floating around. It's sonically extremely complicated, and supposedly very hard to duplicate live. But in spots it's very simple as well.
My favorite tracks are "Diary of Wood," "Inside Blasts" (which has an anxious structure to it), and "Your Parades." I also love the final track, "Forever," - you'll see why.
So obviously this is an album very close to my own heart, but please don't hold back in your comments. I have close friends who can't really stand it. Something about the lyrics, so huge in scope and yet delivered so personally, just compels me, however. So I hope you like it just as much, but, you know, tell me about it.
Post by Horned Gramma on Jul 11, 2011 12:01:01 GMT -5
Good call on that one there, Drew. I've had a troubled relationship with the first Circulatory System album over the last ten years so I want to make sure I listen to it with fresh ears before I start trying to put down my feelings regarding it.
Post by StormyPinkness on Jul 11, 2011 14:35:56 GMT -5
Here are my belated N.A.S.A. comments. It is extra challenging for me to do this as I cannot stream stuff at work and since HG listens to this stuff during the day when I am at work, I feel bad coming home from work and making him listen to them again. So I listen on the youtubes and so between that and people constantly coming and bothering me in my cubicle it can sometimes take a little while to get a good listen.
This album is fun to me in the way the summer blockbuster movies are. A lot of big names on the bill, a large voiced announcer, and some fun content that doesn't make me feel like I need to exercise my brain all that much.
There were tracks that I liked better than others, but none that made me feel like I hated them or would turn it off. I enjoyed "The People Tree", "Way Down", "Strange Enough", and "Whachadoin?" specifically from the times I heard this.
This album did not remind me of Girl Talk at all. I see where the people who say that are coming from, but I don't see this album as a mash up at all. I see porpoise behind the tracks. The recordings from the people involved may be different, but they are all involved in the same thing. It is playing with sounds and beats, not just hearing independent sounds and mashing them together.
This album is not a groundbreaker or anything, but they do have a lot of talent and a lot of really interesting sound. I like that the genre of hip hop is continuing to be expanded upon in ways that are not just gangsta rap. This is a good summertime listen and would be fun to have on while some of your friends are over drinking beers and enjoying the day.