Spider Bags 

Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World

Getting passed off as North Carolina natives might help explicate the music Spider Bags concocts, but the moniker is disingenuous. Dan McGee, who simultaneously fronts New Jersey's DC Sniper, and his Southern-dwelling cohort don't crank out punk as one might expect. Instead, Spider Bags works in and around Americana with a nod toward pervasive Dylan-isms and a dash of lowdown garage.

Following 2007's A Celebration of Hunger, this latest effort arrives confined by genre restrictions. Its first single, "Hey Delinquents," plays as an alt-country paint-by-numbers, giving listeners little more than a simplistic recap of a formula long ago codified by the Uncle Tupelo/Wilco/Son Volt axis. While the disc mostly functions within stilting guidelines, it's when McGee and Spider Bags incorporate a freewheelin' approach to rock 'n' roll that the band genuinely displays its talents.

The seven-minute "Trouble" begins as other tracks represented here: An echoed slide guitar leads the ensemble alongside a dainty piano line. Quickly, though, feedback presents itself as another player in contention for domination of the track. Momentarily bogged down by songwriterly concerns, this offering eventually leaps beyond expectations and enters into a dirge of production flourishes and belligerent feedback. Approximating DC Sniper's pacing, the penultimate "Nowhere Nobody Nothing" gives listeners another brief glimpse into the Spider Bags' ignored, muscular abilities before the album slowly whimpers to a close. (Birdman Records)

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