"...inherited by dirtbags and glue-sniffers."
There are musicians who hone their craft over time, artfully refining and redefining their sound and approach with each successive album. For this studious bunch, a career can be charted as an ascending arrow pointed at divinity. Music is art, and art is a process by which we discover truths. No savvy consumer of music wishes to feel the shame of failing to understand and appreciate the bold march of a touched artist.
A series of 50 delicate albums, each dedicated to a state or commonwealth? Such vision! A history lesson on the Civil War set to indie rock music? Yes, please! A rock opera from a hardcore-punk act? How innovative!
The Spits suffer from no such pretense. This cranked-up garage-punk outfit dropped from the womb fully-formed and ready to rumble. They set the bar high early on, and they’ve never ceased to hurl themselves over it. Piercing buzz-saw guitar, relentless 4/4 rhythms, an occassional synthesizer ray-gun sound, laconic and bitter vocals; it was all there from the start, more than 15 years ago in Seattle.
Their latest offering, a fifth self-titled album and their first for In the Red Records, is another notch in the bedpost. With 12 more modern classics like “My Life Sucks,” “I’m Scum,” and “Last Man on Earth,” it’s the soundtrack for a post-nuclear world inherited by dirtbags and glue-sniffers.
The Spits are nothing if not reliable. They’re quite possibly the hardest-working and most consistently menacing group you can hope for if you’re the type who wears a constant sneer and gets a kick out of flipping a casual bird. They’re the type of band the Ramones could have been if not for the obsession those guys had with wanting the airwaves. Or maybe the Misfits, had they decided to ditch the whole horror thing for about five minutes.
The Spits are the type of degenerate cheap-thrill- seekers you’d hope to run into at any party, provided you’re not the host. They’d surely commandeer the stereo, blast AC/DC, drink all your beer, bully all your friends into doing kegstands, and ride skateboards all over your living room. By the time they left, your girlfriend would be gone, along with all the copper pipes from behind the walls. Approach ’em with caution and have an escape route mapped out.
Each live performance (a rare occurrence in this town) is legendary. Cretins of every hue will pour in from all corners of the region to see them take the stage. They’ll arrive on skateboards and in stolen cars, all pepped-up and darty-eyed, and they’ll pile into some stinking hole for the privilege of packing themselves as sardine-like close to their heroes as possible. There will be a lot of air-guitar playing, mouthing of lyrics and crowd-surfing.
Up there on the cramped stage, brothers Sean and Erin Wood on guitar and bass will don outrageous costumes and exchange angry glances. They’ll spatter out their melodic bile just like they’ve always done.
Mon., March 5, 8pm. $12. With TV Ghost + Jukebox Zeroes. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. 215.291.4919. kungfunecktie.com
PW's Music Issue 2014