"Papa Was A Shithead"
b/w "I Wish That I Never Had Fed You"
"Papa Was A Shithead"
Spider Bags are a rock 'n' roll band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, consisting of Dan McGee (guitar/vocals, formerly of the late great punk outfit DC Snipers), Steve Oliva (bass), Rock Forbes (drums), and New Jersey mainstay/satellite member Gregg Levy (not featured on these recordings). Having stumbled around The States since '06 or so, in vans and on stages with everyone from Titus Andronicus to Reigning Sound, McGee & Co. are no strangers to the spit and sawdust of the America that surrounds them. In fact, their music is an ode to that very America -- a strange, subtly sad landscape painted with blurry vision yet fang-sharp Southern wit, like some Barry Hannah bedroom blues band, and framed decoratively within the glow of each song.
Following three full-length LPs and a slew of singles from labels like Bull City, Chruchkey, and Daggerman, "Papa Was A Shithead" falls in the immediate wake of their latest 12", Shake My Head (Odessa Records, August 2012) -- a defining effort that not only pulls inspiration from garage-punk legends like The Reatards and Oblivions, but further solidifies their Memphis influence with cameo appearances by Shawn Cripps (of The Limes), Goner Records' John Wesley Coleman III, and Jack Oblivion himself. As Dusted Magazine recently phrased it, "Shake My Head is a total blast, a drunken bacchanal, a triumph in sticky floor garage rock, that, at the same time, pushes the boundaries."
What separates the Spider Bags from every other revved-up garage snot fuzzhead is the greatness (and I don't use that word lightly) of McGee as a songwriter. For every ounce of Replacements-flavored boozey boogie is a counterweight that nods to past and present captains of the quill, from Townes Van Zandt and Gene Clark to David Berman, or (coming full circle) Greg Cartwright's sentimental side. Speaking in theatrical conventions, Spider Bags wear both "Sock and Buskin" masks, often simultaneously, with comfort and success.
That is precisely were we find ourselves on the "Papa Was a Shithead" 7". While the band straight-up hammers through the title-track (a minute-long ripper, co-written by Matt Hoopengardner of The Golden Boys) with an unhinged "Fuck you, Dad" demeanor, they aren't afraid to slow it down a little on the flip. "I Wish That I Never Had Fed You" features the addition of Nathan Golub on pedal steel, softening the slap of the A-side, letting the tattered heart flag fly as it has over so many songs of cowboy abandon, entering "alt-country" territory without ever allowing itself to be pinned down as such.
Both songs recorded, mixed, and mastered for vinyl by Wesley Wolfe at Warrior Sound (Chapel Hill, NC).
Art and layout by Steve Oliva. Jackets screen-printed by Kin Ship Press (Louisville, KY).
Limited first-edition of 300 copies on translucent purple wax.