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Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World

by Ryan Snyder

Somewhere between Spider Bags’ wonderfully scuzzy album Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World and the supposedly Bacchanalian Memphis recording session that produced its follow-up, the band’s chief songwriter and master of ceremonies Dan McGee got married. For most men, it’s a cometo-Jesus reappraisal of their lifestyle. For McGee, it was another excuse to throw a party. That followup, entitled Shake Your Head, almost completely tosses the band’s roadmap to Bloodshot Records out the window and goes all in on ricocheting guitars and raw hooks. It’s a glorious rager crammed into 30 or so minutes that wastes absolutely no time on its way to kickass. Opener “Keys to the City” shouts its tagline a half-dozen times within the song’s first 10 seconds before pithily summarizing the life of a small-town nobody over its final minute and 48. “Been living in this city my whole life/ now I’m cheating on my girlfriend with my ex-wife,” he confesses like a barfly at last call. “Friday Night” plays like the few hours leading up to it has he sings his pathos over boogie guitars: “Maybe I’ll drink and maybe I’ll fight/ Maybe I’m sick of Friday night/ All my friends are leaving town/ I’m the only jerk that sticks around.” You could quickly find yourself quoting half of this album after only a couple of listens, but that’s the charm of McGee and company. He’s like a gutter Gandhi dishing out tales of has-beens and flunkies with such hard-rocking, catchy verve that you want to get dirty with them.

79/100

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