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Spider Bags Goodbye cruel World, Hello Crueler World: Things Are not Alright

“Does ought befall you, tis good. Tis part of life’s rich tapestry.” The stoic philospher and sometime Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius, back around 160 AD said that and while I have never been much into stoticism myself, being more the shout, scream and bang my fist on the floor reactor too lifes befallings, I have read some of it. So, apparently, has Spider Bags leader Dan McGee and not just because somewhere in all that life is an experience, etc., and so on, is a one damned thing after another, and Spider Bags second album is called Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler, but also, and a bit more clearly, because he calls the first song on the album “It Always Loved To Have Happened” -another break up song with a typically smart lyric, “anything that starts fucked up is bound to end that way”, and a killer harmonica break- in the weighted and fated disasters of love McGee there seems to be something inescapable to the Cruel and Crueler worlds inhabited.

Cruel Crueler isn’t as good as A Celebration Of Hunger and even if it was it wouldn’t be because she can’t replicate a first love. Cruel Crueler doesn’t peak as high, there is no “Waking Up Drunk” and there is no “Devil When I Go’ or “So Long A Rope”, country music so timeless you look for the Merle Haggard label. On those songs, throught out the earlier album, Spider bags sound like the Replacement’s covering merle haggard which is the best I can do with McGee’s rock whinge plus chick backup.

But it peeks high enough, eleven songs which seem to balance the best of old time country with the swagger of the Stones. And, take a look there, they have the muscle on CC to have made the leap from garage rock to hard rock. Impressive.

So what’s the problem? The songs lack the width of styles and the onslaught of classics. Actually, maybe I’m not right their because looking at the track list there isn’t one bad shit is befallin’ me song here that doesn’t kick like a mule in the back of your pleasure glands eventually. The single “Hey Delinquents” is a little know out popaloosa, “Que Viva El Rocanroll” a singalongahell, first it swings, and then, in the title cum chorus it falls about. “Lord Please” comes on like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris having trouble tuning their guitar, “Trouble” roars…

And every song feels like a soundtrack for the new depression. Between the last two years the world caught up with Dan: the drunk, drug, broken romanced, loser of Celebration -all his stoicism based upon his ability to be remotely happy, has gone from being a type to being a mold for American men. McGee was Jamey Johnson before Jamey Johnson was Jamey Hohnson. From an alt rock outsider, on CC he is in the lock step with classic country and with American middle class men.

I would call this an achievement but an achievement would suggest some form of conscious decision making and the album is much more organic than that. This album is a part of the rich tapestry, it loved to have happened because it couldn’t happen any other way

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