Places You Call Home Album reviews.
Release Date: 1998
Record label: Teenage USA Records
There's No Place Like Home
by: terry sawyer
Mean Red Spiders evoke the evenings of my appropriately wasted youth when my friends and I couldn't wait to get good pot from our gold-chained dealer and head to Detroit for the latest Boo Radley's single. It's been awhile, and lately I've noticed a resurgence in bands walling themselves in ambient drone and vocals that sounds like a thin layer of dry ice tendrils. The trouble with Mean Red Spiders comes from the fact that even at the apex of "shoegazing" they would have sounded like bands like Revolver, dug up by A& R grubs to soak up trend seeking cash. Though, in all fairness, Mean Red Spiders can't possibly be accused of mining a pan flash that happened almost a decade prior to this release.
Places You Call Home fares best on the revved up early Velocity Girl numbers like "Necktie" which contains several interludes of loud, woozy, strum. "Meanness" amps up the noises even further and sounds like an underwater garage band. "Belle Elmore" recycles the paper angel vocals of Lush with a typical cake-layered backdrop. It fails in its unraveled, wandering pace. "Iiieves Cove" adds a jangly ring to the ether, but it only makes the music sound brittle and thin, like something that would make your fillings ache.
I'm not trying to be surly. Tranquil, shimmery washes of sound can be almost primally enveloping when they're done right. But songs like "Max" and "Places You Call Home" have better down tempo contemporaries in techno acts like Four Tet and Boards of Canada. The struggle for any band in this vein, is avoiding the easy drift into backdrop.
Places You Call Home is a swatch book of old shoegazer bands, Slowdive during the slower bits and sometimes Stereolab when the haze gets cranked up a notch. Far from horrible, this album just never stakes out any new ground or succeeds in any old modes. Frankly, it's just terminally slurred vagueness. 09-Oct-2002 4:00 PM