Someday Everything Will Be Fine
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Four years after releasing their Merge debut, Frozen Letter, Spider Bags have returned with Someday Everything Will Be Fine, an LP that ascends to new levels of aural punch and perspective. The years that elapsed between records were crucial in enabling that progress to take place. “We had gone as far as we could go with touring all the time, and cranking out singles and our own records, ” says frontman Dan McGee, reflecting on the prolific touring and recording pace he and his bandmates have kept up since 2007. “I really wanted to see what would happen if we were just concentrating on material instead of preparing for shows. We were really able to focus on maybe 12, 14 songs—knowing we were going to have to bring them down to 10—and I think it’s a better record for it. We rehearsed ‘My Heart Is a Flame in Reverse’ and ‘Reckless’ for a year before we recorded them. That’s not something we’ve ever had the time to do before.” Recorded in Memphis at Bunker Audio by Andrew McCalla (who also engineered Spider Bags’ seminal 2012 rock and roll party record Shake my Head), Someday Everything Will Be Fine leverages the limitations and glory of the Tascam 388, a vintage recording/mixing device that’s acquired a mythos via its association with legendary records by Dinosaur Jr., East River Pipe, the Black Keys, Ty Segall, and Thee Oh Sees to name a few. The Tascam’s charms are more immediate, with a visceral resonance all its own. “It’s an 8-track machine designed for smaller studios, so your eight tracks are on quarter-inch tape. It squashes the tracks so close together they bleed into each other, which, you know, shouldn’t work, but it does. There’s also a certain compression that happens on those machines that cannot be duplicated. It feels live, but it also sounds like it took place in a studio. It’s not about being an analog purist—it’s about finding the medium that works best for what you’re trying to create, and the band has never sounded better than we sound on this record. I wanted to do as much as we could live, the four of us together playing the guitar solos and tripping effects on the fly like we would at a show. I wanted to capture the performance without the use of infinite tracks and the ability to click away mistakes. You have to be well rehearsed to make a record that way. The album is almost entirely first takes. ‘Burning Sand’ is not only a first take but also the first time we played the song all the way through, with a minute-long instrumental opening that was completely off the cuff. That’s how my favorite rock and roll records were made. It’s the limitations, I think, that create the performance.” Recording in Memphis also lent its own mojo to the album’s sound and feel. According to McGee, “Rock and roll just sounds better there. I swear.” Adding to this sound is the featured playing of Memphis giants Jack Oblivian, John Whittemore, Jana Misener and Krista Wroten-Combest of the Memphis Dawls, and multi-instrumentalist Seth Moody. “It’s a great town with so much individuality and history, musical and otherwise, that can’t help but seep into the music you’re making. I love that city.” Other non-Spider Bag contributing musicians include Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus and Matthew Hoopengardner of Austin, Texas, rock and roll legends the Golden Boys. The LP opens with “Reckless, ” a strangely organic-sounding sprawl wrought from different parts of songs that McGee had struggled to complete, which peaks with gorgeous guitar fireworks. “The song didn’t seem satisfied until I brought in a couple pieces from other songs I hadn’t finished, ” says McGee. “Steve said when we finished recording it, ‘There’s seven parts in that song and none of them repeat.’” From that epic build-up, the record returns to earth with the sprightly “Oxcart Blues, ” whose twinned guitars a...
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