Quick Morning Rant: Slint “Spiderland”

Touch and Go 1991

This has been one of my favorite albums since my early high school years. It’s one of the many that I can thank Mr. Eric Melin for introducing to me. I was the really geeky kid that would come into Streetside Records and ask people about EVERYTHING, and Eric was one of the employees that took advantage of this–I guess he saw it as an opportunity to spread the glorious disease of great music onto a malleable young mind. Subsequently, he proceeded to throw this album at me, as well as albums by Pixies, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Guided by Voices, KISS, Cheap Trick, The Jesus Lizard, and basically all the other music that came to shape my taste. But Spiderland is so different from any of those, or anything else for that matter. For one thing, all the other bands listed above are more or less canonized these days, and though Slint is almost universally revered as one of the most influential bands of all time, they can’t really be canonized because their body of work is so small. Not only that, Spiderland is their only great record. The album that precedes it, Tweez, is interesting at best. But Spiderland puts music fans in an interesting conundrum, because it’s that kind of record that completely stands out as an original. So many bands have tried to copy it, but trying to copy it completely misses the point–the band’s ethics speak for themselves (for instance, if you have a copy of Spiderland on CD, note the disclaimer on the back, reading that the album is meant to be heard on vinyl). Slint created their own little niche with this record and broke up soon after, but I don’t think they could have lasted much longer. Where was there to go after creating something like “Good Morning Captain”, one of the coolest songs in history? The mix of spoken word creepiness and breathtaking, apocalyptic instrumentation that defines this record is simply captivating. “Breadcrumb Trail”, one of the best openers of all time, has a part where the narrator sits down to have his fortune read by a fortune teller, but then abruptly asks her if she would rather ride a roller coaster. If your answer would be “Yes”, this album is for you.

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