Slint

Tweez (1989)

tweez

Whether or not these puerile garage butchers kick-started a craze further down the line known as “post-rock”, the cacophony splurting from my headphones suggests they didn’t intend for it to happen nor for anything else to happen. There’s no structure (intentional, obviously), very little in terms of rhythmic groove (intentional, obviously) and when there is rhythmic groove they’re bashing pots and pans in the background.

Sometimes I get a kick out of the change in textures and timing from bar to bar (“Carol”) and the bass-heavy leads give off a [slight] scent of competence in song construction (“Darlene”). I saw on a documentary on these guys quite a while back David Pajo giving a lesson in guitar harmonics, so they can play, I just wish they would.

“I’ve got a Christmas tree inside my head” sums them up nicely. Wincing as I type, a line like this brings me back to Neutral Milk Hotel and “Vegetable hand on my perfume”. Christ.

They’re only kids, let’s not forget. Kids in a garage. Steve Albini tried to add some Big Black into their stuttering, noisy youth. It didn’t work. (C+)

Spiderland (1991)

spiderland

This underground cult of doggerel dirge has always lived off the intimate harmonics of “Breadcrumb Trail”, their most conventionally versed riff to date in “Washer” and the visceral spooks of “Good Morning, Captain”.

Like the debut there lies a lack of cohesion between groove and textures, sometimes this works. Britt Walford’s drums and fills are at times a refreshing addition even when he’s as heavy-handed as he feels he’s not. These lads have obtained critical cult acclaim for their arpeggio plodding, compartmentalisation and noisy repetition. It always has its charms – they don’t mean for that to be the case but so be it.

Even if it is “from the gut” as a lot like to construe, the lack of song structure and neglect of such isn’t frustrating as much as it is at times tiresome. But it has spirit, lots of it. “Good Morning, Captain” is one of my favourite finishes to an album, ever. Samuel Taylor Coleridge would’ve been proud. Brian McMahan’s sappy approach is fetching when it was just sappy in Tweez and the, at times, two-chord songcraft is fitting in its repetitious form.

I never hate anything as much as my favourite critic Robert Christgau does, but I’ll leave his summarised statement of this record and the band for you to chuckle at here, even if I don’t totally agree with his grade – “And if you promise not to mention their lyrics they promise to keep the volume down.” (B+)

Untitled (1994) – EP

untitled

Recorded before Spiderland I’ll have you know, this posthumous EP has more competent drum fills from Britt Walford in “Glenn”… That’s about it. Their reinterpretation of “Rhoda” has a nice yet typical post-hardcore edge… That’s about it.

Give it a listen if you have a little over thirteen minutes. Or don’t. (B-)

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