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Freddie Gibbs/Madlib - Bandana Music Album Reviews

On their second album as a duo, Madlib and Freddie Gibbs pull themselves deeper into one another’s worlds.
On paper, Freddie Gibbs, a straight-shooting street rapper, and Madlib, an eccentric tinkerer, are as mouth-watering a combo as licorice and pickle juice. But their collaborative 2014 album Piñata succeeded because the two are equally uncompromising: Madlib tailors beats to his eclectic ears alone, while Gibbs insists that he can rap over anything. Kindred spirits, the pair bonded through mutual gumption.





Spider Bags - Someday Everything Will Be Fine Music Album Reviews

The North Carolina trio’s fifth record show a softer side, but some moments yearn for their trademark snarkiness.

Dan McGee’s obsession with the tragicomic predates his decade-long tenure as the frontman of the North Carolina trio Spider Bags. In the early 2000s, he launched a raucous punk band “with the most obnoxious name we could find”: DC Snipers. The band’s songs, like “All Humans Are Garbage” were accordingly provocative, but their knack for making self-loathing sound like a joyride carried over to Spider Bags as well, delivered in the form of grungy, countrified rock songs whose fervor amplified their absurdist messaging.

But the title of Spider Bags’ fifth full-length, Someday Everything Will Be Fine, signals a change. Throughout the album, McGee keeps himself partly rooted in angst and apathy, while, for the first time, also directly expounds on the healing powers of love. We witness a more holistic and honest McGee, but it often comes at the expense of his gallows humor and it renders his narratives a bit tepid. A handful of moments yearn for his trademark snarkiness: For all the morose talk of pills that can’t make a man care and children sleeping in hearses, the mid-tempo rocker “Burning Sand” takes the rancid air out of the album with its overly earnest mode. When McGee vows to “Crawl across the burning sand/If I could only be your man,” it lands as emotionally dull.

Fortunately, the group —which also includes drummer Rock Forbes, bassist Steve Oliva, and contributions from a cast of friends including Titus Andronicus’ Patrick Stickles—compensates for the occasional frictionless lyric with some of their most impassioned roadhouse punk yet. Recorded to tape with a vintage Tascam 388 8-track, Someday drips with a loving sloppiness and a grimy sheen that was largely absent from their last album, 2014’s Frozen Letter. The blankets of distortion and rusted squawks of guitar convey the giddy familial air of a band that might still relish sleeping together on the studio floor during recording sessions. The sub-minute rush of “Cop Dream / Black Eye (True Story)” recalls DC Snipers’ elemental punk, complete with a sinewy guitar line straight out of the Pixies, and the band balances sentimentality with irreverence on “Reckless,” a hodgepodge of unused songs that begins as a crushing mass of atonal slop and goopy effects before pulling itself out if its own muck. “I wasn’t give a fuck,” McGee yelps at the song’s apex before playing his full hand: his partner is the only balm that can soothe his own worst tendencies.

The album’s centerpiece is a glowing and revved-up cover of Charlie Rich’s 1977 country hit “Rollin With the Flow,” an ode to staying weird even as middle-age begs you to take the straight and narrow. It’s an intriguing statement from McGee, once a beer-drenched Peter Pan, who is now married with kids in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. While he longs to keep one foot planted in Rich’s hedonism, he has instead landed on a lukewarm contentment that speaks to the album’s title. Love has saved Dan McGee, but as he and Spider Bags effectively remind us, it hasn’t killed his demons.

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