Frozen Letter

Frozen Letter

by Spider BagsSpider Bags

CD

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Overview

Growth is often incremental and on the surface, the Spider Bags don't sound as if they've changed much on their fourth album, Frozen Letter, even though it marks their debut on a new (and bigger) label, Merge Records, and their first effort since guitarist Gregg Levy moved from full-time to part-time status with the group, appearing on just four of the album's eight tunes. But give it a couple of spins and Frozen Letter does sound tighter, more ambitious, and more mature than the band's earlier work, with less of a focus on bad behavior and more observational material that suggests Dan McGee and his bandmates are doing less drinking and more thinking lately. While the first half of the album is devoted to short, garage-inclined bursts like "Japanese Vacation" (smart and swaggering, with some fine, clean picking from frontman McGee) and "Summer of '79" (a nervy rant against classic rock that asks the question "Why do you wanna be a Rolling Stone?/Why do you think your daddy is the King of Rock & Roll?"), the album closes out with four tunes that all run over five minutes, and "Coffin Car" and "Walking Bubble" both manage to sound simple but contemplative, the latter dominated by acoustic guitars and a dour vocal, while the former feels impressionistic and just a bit artful, full of shimmering tremolo, ambient electronics, and thick organ patches alongside guitar figures that grow bigger and noisier as the melody moves forward. The extended pieces that close out the album make Frozen Letter less immediately engaging than 2012's Shake My Head, but if this set isn't much of a party, it confirms the bandmembers are getting smarter and more creative, and while early in their career Spider Bags didn't seem like a band that would welcome maturity, these songs show they're growing into it in their own slightly sloppy way.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/05/2014
Label: Merge Records
UPC: 0673855052120
catalogNumber: 521
Rank: 177138

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Spider Bags   Primary Artist
Mac McCaughan   Electric Guitar
Dan McGee   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Clarque Blomquist   Organ,Electric Guitar,12-string Guitar
John Wesley Coleman   Vocals
Gregg Levy   Electric Guitar,Guitar (Electric Baritone),Metal Objects
Steve Oliva   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Rock Forbes   Percussion,Drums
Ben Riseling   Saxophone
Ric Palau   Electric Guitar
Cordon McGee   Vocals

Technical Credits

Dan McGee   Producer,Layout
Spider Bags   Composer
John Wesley Coleman   Composer
Wesley Wolfe   Producer,Engineer
Steve Oliva   Layout
Steven Walls   Artwork

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