The trio currently touring as the Spider Bags are a forcefully fun garage rock unit that operate as though they’ve been playing together all their lives. In truth, it took Carrboro’s Dan McGee until 2009 to lock down his first consistent backers
Spider Bags’ first reliable foundation consisted of bassist Gregg Levy, a friend of McGee since his early days in Jersey, and drummer Rock Forbes and solidified following the release of Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, the band’s sophomore LP. For the next two years, the three men toured the country relentlessly in an old Mitsubishi Mirage, Forbes crammed into the back seat alongside the band’s gear. Three of the six 45s mined for Churchkey Records’ new Singles collection were recorded during this period, a creative frenzy for McGee and his cohorts. Levy has since returned to the North, replaced by new bassist Steve Oliva, and the three newest songs on Singles offer sightlines to the new line-up’s bright future. But for McGee, the collection is most meaningful as a document of Spider Bags’ first consistent configuration.
“I made a CD for Steve when he joined the band,” McGee recalls, “a CD of the other songs that weren’t on the albums, and I listened to it before I gave it to him. I was like, ‘This kind of tells a weird little story.’”
More than consolidating the output from one of Spider Bags’ most crucial periods, Singles chronicles McGee’s evolution from bare-bones garage purist to ambitious rock experimentalist, a journey that comes full circle on Shake My Head. Released in 2012, the band’s third LP is an intricately explosive collection that builds on techniques that McGee refined with a trio of 7-inches (Teenage Eyes, Dog in the Snow and Take It Easy Tonite) each released on a different local label between 2009 and 2010.
“Teenage Eyes” crystallizes the Bags’ touch for ragged but resplendent rock, a skill that is complicated by psychedelic scuzz on Singles’ subsequent offerings. “Dog in the Snow” drives ahead with a kraut-ish bass line that recalls Thee Oh Sees as McGee howls with wild abandon through dense layers of effects and reverb. “Take It Easy Tonite” goes even further. The song went through dozens of revisions before its first release in 2010 and is perfected on Singles with a dizzying sax solo from the Wigg Report’s Ben Riseling. The addition complements McGee’s tangled distortion, blowing out this simple call for a night of relaxation into an absorbing spectacle.
Singles tracks Spider Bags’ evolution from roughly recorded songwriting outlet to one of the most skilled and exciting rock ‘n’ roll outfits around, and that — in addition to a slate of exciting songs that challenge the band’s proper LPs for catalog supremacy — makes it essential for any fan wanting to understand them completely.
Singles track listing:
- Teenage Eyes
- Papa Was a Shithead
- Walking Walking Nowhere Nowhere
- Dog in the Snow
- I Wish That I Never Had Fed You
- Take it Easy Tonite
- Shaunda (I Don’t Know My Sign)
- 8. Eileen
- Out of My Head, Into My Bed
Looking for the individual Spider Bags 7″s?
- “Hey Delinquents” b/w “Professionals” on Daggerman Records
- “Teenage Eyes” b/w “Eileen” on Odessa Records
- “Dog in the Snow” b/w “Walking Walking Nowhere Nowhere” on Bull City Records
- “Take it Easy Tonite” b/w “Shaunda (I Don’t Know My Sign)” on Churchkey Records
- “Papa Was a Shithead” b/w “I Wish That I Never Had Fed You” on Sophomore Lounge Records
- Reatard split 7″ with The Love Language on Tangible Formats