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Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World

Spider Bags & Dan McGee

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Album Review

Psychedelic music usually has less to do with drugs themselves than the way hallucinogens alter the perceptions and creative processes of the musicians taking them. Similarly, Dan McGee of Spider Bags is unique among rock & roll drunks in that he doesn't seem as interested in the dumb things booze makes him (or permits him) to do, as in the cloudy head space and dulled time/space reactions that allow his musical visions to spring forth. Spider Bags second album, 2009's Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, was recorded over the course of two years in a variety of basements, living rooms, and makeshift studios from New Jersey to South Carolina, but the focus of this music stays remarkably constant throughout — McGee's head seems more than a little bent throughout these 11 songs as he tries to navigate through a world that's increasingly confusing to him, reflected in the buzzy, off-kilter melodies (often rooted in country and blues figures), and lyrics about the various ways things are going to hell all around him ("Trouble is always on my mind" sums up his mindset as well as any lyric on this album, especially as the distortion and feedback of several guitars swirl around him as he sings). Despite the bottom of the bottle world view that permeates this album, Goodbye Cruel World is surprisingly lively — McGee's vocals are sharper than one might expect, the band works up a big, dirty cloud of sound on the best cuts, and the pace reflects a band that has learned to run under circumstances that would make other acts stagger. Spider Bags push the boundaries of their lo-fi approach a bit farther than it needs to go on Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, but at its best, the album sounds like the tail-end of a bender that's fading into the inevitable hangover, and the delights of the buzz are as vivid as the agony of the crash. It's as interesting to hear as it must have been grim to live through.

Customer Reviews

Genius Poet

great melody and lyrics.

Biography

Formed: Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Specializing in rollicking but slightly shambolic tales of hard living and questionable behavior, the Spider Bags were first formed in New Jersey by guitarist and vocalist Dan McGee and bassist and guitarist Gregg Levy. The two met in the mid-'90s when Levy, still a teenager, was playing with a band that needed a new singer, and the vocalist they recruited brought McGee along to play second guitar. Levy and McGee discovered they shared an enthusiasm for Jimi Hendrix, acoustic blues, and marijuana,...
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Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World, Spider Bags
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