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Best of 2012: LPs

It’s been a great year of music, but some records stood out more than most, so the staff came together again to vote for our favorite long players of 2012. So for anyone who says that rock n roll is dead, here’s 25 solid albums to hit them over the head with. Share your lists in the comments, and read more of the Best of 2012

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Theme from "Cheers" (feat. Dan McGee + Leo)
  • Theme from "Cheers" (feat. Dan McGee + Leo)
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Skull Alley (4-21-10)
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Don’t sleep on this rare live rendition Theme from ‘Cheers’ which finds Spider Bags’ Dan McGee performing on stage with Titus Andronicus. Some lucky dude named Leo was also called up to play harmonica from the crowd at Skull Alley in Louisville.

Friday Night (Single)
  • Friday Night (Single)
  • Spider Bags
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Spider Bags - “Friday Night”

North Carolina’s Spider Bags have spent the past five years cutting their teeth on the relentless DIY circuit, carving out a place in the East Coast garage rock scene through the sheer force of their countrified anthems. Along the way, they’ve earned the support and praise of some notable musical figures, including Titus Andronicus’ Patrick Stickles, who covered their song “Waking Up Drunk” for a Daytrotter session and has professed them to be the greatest band in the world. Spider Bags frontman Dan McGee returned the favor in 2010 by contributing guest vocals to “Theme From ‘Cheers’,” a song on Titus Andronicus’ landmark second full length The Monitor.

 It’s been a few years since Spider Bags dropped their last full length, but they have a new album called Shake My Head coming out on vinyl soon via Odessa Records. “Friday Night” is the first single, a blistering garage rock jam with sloppy lo-fi riffs and some Thee Oh Sees-style reverb smothered on the guitars. It’s a change of pace for the band, whose 2007 debut A Celebration of Hunger was firmly rooted in alt-country stylings, but Dan McGee’s world-weariness is still there in full effect. Shake My Head is an appropriate title for this album, because even though its shuffling rhythms and electric guitar licks will have you bobbing yours along, it’s easy to picture McGee shaking his head for the other reason.

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Stream “Friday Night” above, and download it via Spider Bags' bandcamp page, where Shake My Head is now streaming in full.

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Spider Bags - Chem Trails

From the album Frozen Letter, out August 5, 2014 on Merge Records. Directed by Jonny Look.

MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE: The Triangle, North Carolina

Lonnie Walker at first listen sounds like plain fun, danceable Americana, but it is so much more than that. The band mixes Americana, classic rock, and dance punk in an amalgamation that is self-described as stump rock. Lonnie Walker has been part of the North Carolina music scene for a while and even played shows with Future Islands before they moved to Baltimore. This band could be best compared to Bob Dylan if he kept the same singing style but began writing music in a way that shifts and grows in a moment’s notice.

Spider Bags is a veteran band from Chapel Hill, NC that writes garage rock with a heavy nostalgic flair. Even though they have been playing in their local scene for almost ten years, they have been gaining recognition and have even recently signed onto Merge Records. If you have a thirst for intense and head banging garage rock music, Spider Bags is there for you.

T0W3RS is a synth-funk band from Raleigh, North Carolina fronted by Derek Torres. If you want music you can dance to that is drenched in synths and ‘80s vibes, T0W3RS is for you. Torres makes tunes that seem really reminiscent of both LCD Soundsystem and newer Tame Impala, but are still entirely unique. Despite the recent loss of much of his band early last year, Torres went on to make T0W3RS a solo project and release a fan-favorite record, TL;DR.

-John Kos

Review: Spider Bags - Shake My Head

By Zac Camagna

Will this be the album where Chapel Hill’s Spider Bags finally get the recognition they deserve? It’s hard to think they couldn’t with such an ambitious offering like Shake My Head, their third full length from the Odessa Records label in North Carolina.

Shake My Head is driven by a “fuck it, let’s do this” sort of mentality, which makes for plenty of solid, heart-stopping rock & roll anthems that always manage to overshadow the brutally honest and sad tone of Dan McGee’s lyrics. Most–if not all–of the alt-country twang from past efforts is traded in for a grandiose rock & roll sound, bringing down the house with lethal onslaughts like “Keys to the City”, “Friday Night”, and “Standing on a Curb”. Aside from that, there are some less exhilarating dirges, like the dark and noisy “Daymare”, “The Moon is a School Girl” and the lazy swagger of “Shawn Cripps Boogie”. Despite their dreary nature, this three song punch makes up a hell of a finish for the epic album.

Epic is a word I use sparingly, but you must give credit where credit is due–this album is epic. Not many sing as honestly as McGee, which is evidenced in tracks like “I’ll Go Crazy” or “Daymare”, the latter of which is probably the closest we’ll ever get to A Celebration of Hunger-era Spider Bags. “The buildings are the bastards of the sky/ I got high/ I was born where the moonlight meets the sky,” slurs McGee against a scratchy backdrop, using his catchy hooks to help seal up a track that is considerably haunting.

If that does the trick, then now it’s on you to go and check the remainder of Shake My Head. And if you find that the Bags are coming to your town, it’s worth every second to check them out. They came through Philadelphia this past weekend and these videos from the show speak for themselves.

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We had the honor of shooting the amazing Spider Bags in The Lounge last week. Stay tuned for the interview and don’t forget to pick up your tickets to DBB Dozen!

Waking Up Drunk
  • Waking Up Drunk
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Daytrotter Session - 9/29/2008
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Song of the Day Number 175

Titus Andronicus - “Waking Up Drunk” (Spider Bags cover)

I had seen live videos of Titus Andronicus performing this Spider Bags cover before, but none of those versions were as affecting or as emotional as the one that appears on their 2008 Daytrotter Session. Their cover of the under-appreciated North Carolina country outfit’s definitive anthem is low-key and stripped down, but just as moving and powerful as the original, which I posted as Song of the Day last week. Patrick Stickles shreds his voice here, but I’m sure it was worth it. He also sounds a little drunk… jus a bit.

Check out my full review of the band’s 2008 Daytrotter Session HERE, and download the session for free HERE.