Start godawful, suddenly become the greatest band ever, break up immediately
*special introductory paragraph!
*Slint EP

Slint was a group of young people from Louisville, KY who stuck it out for a tiny period of time before splitting off into King Kong, Gastr Del Sol, Bastro, Tortoise, The Breeders, that Palace guy and The For Carnation. One of their albums was a major piece of shit; the other was so good, you'll shit yourself. Either way, human feces are involved.

Unless you're one of them fancy reading animals, in which case "OOK! OOK! OOK!" (*bugs eyes obnoxiously, flaps arms up and down like an asshole*)

Tweez - Touch And Go 1989
Rating = 3

Slint began their career with the lamest 14-year-old kid's "metal" guitar tone in everness. They appear to be going for a Big Black vibe on several tracks (undoubtlessly assisted by their producer Steve Albini), completely ripping off that band's slicing super-trebly tone and distorted bass in tracks like "Warren," and absolutely HUMILIATING themselves with the most blatantly Albini-esque rant-screams I've ever heard ("PAST WHERE THEY PAINT THE HOUSES!"). Far too many of the songs feature the bass blopping around playing some boring half-riff while the guitarist plays ugly, obvious harmonics through his hideously cheap distortion pedal. Then they add in destructive household noises like utensils and tools being thrown around, and a band member talks about something or other on top of or slightly behind the instrumentation. The songs (all named after people - "Rhoda," "Pat," "Darlene," etc) all seem half-written, with only the relaxing, melodic "Nan Ding" capturing a man's fancy all the way through. The rest of the record undulates haphazardly between obvious, stupid arpeggiated "pretty songs" and terrible, dissonant and not very challenging "math-metal," pinning early Slint as a band of kids who really hadn't figured out what kind of music they wanted to make yet.

The best thing I can say about these bits of forgettable music is that I can sympathize with the thought processes that brought them into the world. This is because most of them remind me of the worst pieces of music that I wrote when I was in college! I used to have homemade tapes out the ass of basic arpeggiations that I misstook for creative beauty and unpleasant metal riffs filled with migraine-friendly guitar harmonics -- these are the kinds of songs that a young person composes when he is trying to improve his speed and dexterity on the electric guitar. They all sound like they were fun to play, but for the most part they're a real kick in the teeth to sit through. Odds are that the band members aren't hella proud of this record either! I don't know them though, so I'll shut my yappin' and keep on flappin'. "OOK! OOK! OOK!" (*eyes bugs hungrily, flaps asshole up and down like an arm*)

Do you know what a harmonic is? I should probably define that instead of assuming that you do. There's a lot of scientific crap involved, but basically there are certain places on the neck of the guitar where, if a guitarist only lightly touches the string right above the fret line (not pushing it down BEHIND the fret line, as you do when you play a normal note), then plucks the string with his other hand IMMEDIATELY before pulling aforementioned finger off of the string, it makes a really high, soft and somehow mesmerizing tone. The first notes of Yes's "Roundabout" are harmonics, as are the four final guitar notes of "Long Distance Runaround" right before it turns into "The Fish." You'll also hear a bunch of them right at the beginning of "The Gates of Delirium." Lots of talented musicians will use a harmonic every once in a while. Unfortunately, when you play them through a shitty $4.00 distortion pedal, it feels like somebody is digging into your eardrum with a heated nail.

Reader Comments (Dave B. Wagner)
I thought you might want to know that all the song titles are actually the names of the band members' parents. Isn't that incredibly uninteresting? (David Straub)
Four guys, nine parents? I think I recall hearing that one of the tracks is named for a Slinter's dog.

I wouldn't give this a 3, but I wouldn't give it more than about a 6. (David Armstrong)
A three is a bit low for this lp. Admittedly it only hints at the genius of it's follow up, Spiderland, however, if you get in the right frame of mind, like you say you do to listen to Honky by Melvins, it is a rewarding listen. I'd give it a 6 or 7. (Dan Malone)
Rhoda is named after Britt Walford's dog.
i like tweez better than spiderland. tweez is an interesting change of pace from the boring everyday shit that you hear on the radio. i think mark is a condescending fop, who needs to get over himself. he implies that he could play that stuff in college and this genius of a man is far past the child's play on tweez fuck you mark. tweez is a great album.
I can't believe a band that was responsible for such a masterpiece as "Spiderland" made this piece of shit.

Well, ok, maybe it's not a piece of shit. But it's definitely boring. The guitar tone is pretty weak at times, but what kills this album for me is the stylistic monotony (the "songs" are for the most part interchangeable), the band's blatant and failed attempts to ape Big Black's style (on the other hand, I thought Steve Albini was singing "Carol" at first; it's possibly the best song on the album), the lyrics - when they're there - are just random Mad Libs without any humor, and, most annoying of all, the idiotic use of clanging tools/metal noises tossed at random into the mix. It's totally stupid and distracting and adds nothing but pretension, which they've already got a lot of at this point.

This album is a 5. Some good moments, and the band's sound was somewhat intriguing even then, but it's mostly a total snore.
I, too, was doing the college dj-thing in Austin, TX, when Tweez came out and was put in my box for review. Grunge was just beginning to infect/save the punk/hardcore scene and for someone like me who really liked punk but did not care for straight-edge, macho, crew business, Tweez was a welcomed new release. I don’t remember what I wrote in my review back then, but I remember being excited about the Albini connection and so I probably gave Slint’s Tweez a few more listens than perhaps I might have otherwise because of my admiration for all things Albini.

If I recall correctly, this was an early engineering/producing gig for Albini and that did not equate the “Coolness Stamp of Approval” it became for Alt/grunge bands around Nirvana’s “In Utero” a few years later. I am not surprised that his work as producer on Tweez should yield results so similar to Big Black at that point in his producing career. Criticisms of “In Utero’s” sound- led to rumors after the recording sessions that Geffen wanted to re-record to get the more familiar, radio-friendly, “Authentic Butch Vig” sound.

I dug the lack of information in the lp’s press kit. The album cover or song titles didn’t give away any details. The Albini connection had me curious enough, but this record needed to be listened to for clues to what this band was all about. A picture of a Saab on a cold day in black and white! Oooooh! How bizarre!

Let’s see, that was 1988 or 1989. I’d say the only other records I can think of from that span that I still listen to regularly now are Nomeansno’s “Small Part Isolated and Destroyed”/ “The Day Everything Became Nothing,” “Wrong” and, I dunno, X’s “Live at The Whiskey au Go-Go.”

Tweez doesn’t belong in the company of those records but when nostalgia for those days hits, it’s a well worth my time.

Spiderland is near the top of a different category for me… the 1990-when I stopped buying new music except for nomeansno period.

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* Spiderland - Touch And Go 1991 *
Rating = 10

It's always a pleasure to review a classic album. When you consider that most albums are made by chimpanzees, it's always a treat to run across one that successfully channels an evocative mood through cerebral time signatures, strange made-up guitar chords, sympathetic instrumental interplay and innovative, harrowing melodies. I'm thinking specifically of The Eagles' Greatest Hits '71-'75, but many feel it would be inappropriate to devote the better half of this Slint review page to yet more praise for the Strandlund/Tempchin-penned "Already Gone" or the Tempchin-penned "Peaceful Easy Feeling," no matter how deserved such accolades might be (and ARE, although anyone with two ears could tell you that Tempchin contributed 200% more than Strandlund while receiving only 2/3rds the credit). Thus, I recur.

Nobody knows how Slint got good all of a sudden; it's one of the great unanswerable rock mysteries. You'd might as well ask a member of Queen whether Freddie Mercury was gay or not. It's simply something that we'll never know, and perhaps were never meant to know. But good they did, and get they were. The six lengthy tracks on Spiderland envelope the listener in a cold, damp blanket of desolate loneliness. Like music created by a bunch of emotionally numb yet incredibly talented people isolated in a cabin in the woods, these rainy, hopeless vignettes of sorrow, loss and fatigue paint the same suicidal portrait as the work of legendary Texas recluse Jandek -- but Slint can actually play their instruments! Also they're not completely insane.

Through the replacement of only one member (the bass player, who went on to form King Kong), the entire thinking mode of the band has changed. Although most of the vocals are still spoken word (except for one really poor excuse for singing that you kinda just have to deal with in life today, with terrorism), there is no confusion of intent or lack of purpose. The songs are built upon stark, emotionally bleak guitar hooks, occasionally interspersed with fleeting moments of hope (the 7/4-timed harmonics-driven riff that starts and closes "Breadcrumb Trail"), sick mental hospital creepiness (the unbalanced 5/4 hook that drives "Nosferatu Man") and mesmerizing atonal bass chords ("GOOD MORNING, CAPTAIN"!!!! "GOOD" FUCKING "MORNING, CAPTAIN!" HAVE YOU FKCING HEARD THIS SONG??? IT'S FDKAKCING INMAZINGBLE!!!! I THINK IT WAS IN KIDS, A MOVIE THAT SUCKED!!!!). The guitar tones are smarter, fuller, and less stupid & immature. The band moves together as a unit, with never a moment wasted. Moments of math-rock (check out the noisy break in "Nosferatu Man," where the dude somehow sneaks two microsecond harmonics between careening blocks of chords - not once, but EVERY time they play it!), expanses of misery-ridden acoustic strumming, haunting late-Swans-style arpeggiated hooks, and finely-timed blasts of distorted blast-chords all play a role in this merciless defeat of the human spirit (that RULES!!!!!).

The lyrics are pretty "wild" and "out there" too. In the album's (ahem) 'happiest'-sounding track, "Breadcrumb Trail," the narrator takes a carnival fortune teller on a rollercoaster ride, she vomits and he leaves, liking her. That's not negative! The same cannot be said of any other lyric on the record. "Nosferatu Man" is difficult to figure out, but it seems to be about a prince who either kills his queen or can't reconcile himself to the fact that she's died... do you know? Tell! "Don, A Man" has no friends, can't connect with anybody at the bar, makes all the patrons unhappy and uncomfortable with his presence, goes home, wakes up the next morning, looks in the mirror and makes a decision (to kill himself? to go back to work and do the same thing all over again? Do you know? Tell!). The poorly singing narrator of "Washer" poorly sings his loved one to sleep as he prepares to leave. He tells her to never give up and never fear anything. Who is he? Where is he going? Do you know? Tell! And finally, in the album's ultimate DEPRESSION LOT, the captain of a ship beats on the door of a house, crying that the storm has wrecked his boat and he is the only survivor. Nobody responds to his cries, and he wakes the next morning to see a child's face looking at him through the window. They recognize each other, and one of them (who? I DON'T KNOW!) tells the other, "I'm sorry. I miss you." as the little boy pulls down the shade. Is the captain the boy's long-lost father, returning after years away at sea? Or is he actually not a captain at all, but just a drunken, delusionary deadbeat dad trying in vain to get his former family to forgive him and let him back into their lives? Do you know? Tell!

No, it's not the Lone Ranger Theme! Christ, Tell!!! Why do I bother asking you anything?!??

(A little William Tell humor for all the national Swiss hero fans out in the audience)

Reader Comments
Hey Mark, I totally agree with your Slint reviews, but I think it should be noted that it was just announced two weeks ago that Slint is getting back together for some shows. Strangely, you mention Jandek in your Spiderland review; he recently played his first-ever show! I've never really thought to compare the two, but you're right... the fourth track on Spiderland is basically Jandek but with some talent. Also, I guess it's the only song ever made that makes Steve Albini cry. It should ALSO be noted that Slint released an EP with two instrumental songs, but I've never heard it......... Yep. Oh, and "Good Morning Captain" is the greatest song EVER. Those "I miss you"'s at the end always get me. Anyway, your review makes me want to pull out Spiderland again, so I think I will.

Rating: 10/10.
Yeah, Spiderland is cool. More importantly, you rule for saying that the movie Kids sucked. It was boring and I get tired of people claiming it's an important movie. (David Straub)
Agreed that this is a 10, a classic, etc. A very singular record. It's hard for me to say much else about it.

The two-track EP was recorded between Tweez and Spiderland. I believe it's still in print on Touch and Go. Neither the record or the tracks are titled in any way other than the fact that the CD spine bears the band name, but the second track is a (much better) re-recording of "Rhoda" from Tweez. Somewhere I once read that the first track is called "Glenn," but I can't divulge a source for that.
This album always wowed me because of all the dynamics. Not like loud/quiet dynamics, but it just seems like they can go from one intensity level to another and hit all the points in between... If that makes sense. It's a really great record, although some people I know have been annoyed with the vocal style. It doesn't really bother me, it just adds to the astmosphere. Listen to it.
"You'd might as well ask a member of Queen whether Freddie Mercury was gay or not. It's simply something that we'll never know, and perhaps were never meant to know" You are joking, aren't you.
Hi Mark. Saw the reformed Slint last weekend at ATP in Camber Sands and I've just gotta say they were incredible. That crystal clear guitar sound and that crisp bold drumming was all there, sounding exactly like it should, which makes the fact that it's been 14 years since they played live all the more impressive. Spiderland is a fantastic lp.10/10
I picked this record up in a skate shop a few years ago. I loved it so much, I ran back to the shop and bought Tweez. Thank god it didn't happen the other way round! Anyway, I digress. I don't understand why this record is so perfect. I don't understand how they leapt from being, as you pointed out, kiddy-jazzy Big Black fans to being for a brief trembling aftertoon on a still Kentucky day in a quarry pit, faces glaring up at Bonnie Billy's lens, the greatest band on earth. I genuinely don't understand it. Pajo's post-Slint career, Zwan-aside, has been exemplary, and Brian McMahan's band The For Carnation have a self-titled record that is only a notch below Spiderland (check out 'Empowered Man's Blues' - it ain't blues, and gawd - he doesn't sound terribly empowered, either). Like the guy above this - I saw them at All Tomorrow's Parties, stood in a cloud of stale marijuana smoke from the healthy looking Scandinavian types crushed around me. And I was entranced - even during the Tweez songs. They didn't drop the ball or fuck up.
i dont know if youve ever listened to what people are calling "post rock" these days but its all 1000000 minute versions of what slint pulled off here, except in an imaginary world where spiderland had terrible melodies and wasnt smart. most good bands become trendsetters for their musical generation and spawn good bands influenced by their innovation... i guess slint was so good that they did some magical thing where the complete opposite happened. spiderland is such a good album that if it was food it would be tastier than other food.

Hey, Mark, I don't do this very often but it's glad to see your site's been updated and since you don't hang around on Music Babble anymore (not that you can at all be blamed for that), but I figured I'd add a reader comment for "Spiderland"-- not to seem like a kissass this is probably the best review on your site IMO and ties with Albini's own review for the album as probably the best that you can find online (or anywhere--it's hard to imagine there being many Slint reviews in print in 1991.) I call it the best on your site not just because it's well written but actually made me reinterested in the album; after checking out a few sound samples I paid money to own it, and found that it indeed deserves its accolades, one of the twenty best albums I've ever heard or so. I'd heard of it before of course but sampled it in a used CD store a few years ago and found it really dull at problem being the lack of non-guitar/bass/drum instruments on the disc and another being the iffy vocals (which I now appreciate although they aren't the most accomplished things in the world as the band themselves would have admitted.) But now I would have to say that "Washer" and "Good Morning Captain" are two of the most powerfully creepy nocturnal songs I've heard and the rest of it isn't far behind. You hit on something few other reviews have: the sense of loneliness the album conveys, most other reviews just talk about this as being the first post-rock album (which it may not be; Talk Talk's last two albums are credited sometimes with starting the album as well.) Your review here and subsequent acclaim for Sigur Ros would seem to pin you as a potential post-rock fan although there are few real factors linking most of those bands. How about Mogwai, Tortoise, Labradford, Isotope 217, etc.?
By most people's standards, "Spiderland" is Slint's masterpiece, and I agree with the consensus. It's an incredible album. I am no aficionado of the school of music this album allegedly inspired (post-rock? Isn't this album credited with basically starting that type of music? I don't really know), but I think this album is basically responsible for nailing a kind of feeling that most bands had been trying to capture once or twice in certain isolated songs for years.

Slint basically made an album dedicated to capturing different shades of barren despair for 39 minutes. The band spent an entire summer honing these songs to perfection, and it really shows. The amazing thing is that they actually made a very listenable album out of this emotion (with a limited bag of musical tricks, too), and actually came up with a masterpiece in the process. Every one of these six songs are intelligently put-together, evoke the feelings they are meant to evoke incredibly well, and features wonderful playing from the entire ensemble. Even the mostly deadpan, spoken vocals, always at best an afterthought on the band's recordings, work enormously well at helping further the atmosphere of the album. This album would actually be much worse without vocals and lyrics.

Almost none of the songs on this album recognize happiness as an attainable emotion. Even "Breadcrumb Trail," the opener and by far the "happiest"-sounding song, seems like it's more about how the narrator is trying to break out of his shell than about how he had fun at the fair with the fortune teller he met. The sole instrumental, "For Dinner...," is contemplative and somber, but not anywhere close to being happy.

The four other songs that make up the meat of the album are, to a note, incredibly depressing. "Nosferatu Man" puts together an uncomfortably shrill, unbalanced lead guitar hook with bruising blocks of nastily distorted, really oddly-timed chordage and an abstract lyric that seems to be about a man locked in a hellish and vampiric relationship with someone he calls his "queen." (Don't apply here, Twilight fans... In fact, don't apply anywhere. Please.)

"Don, Aman" tells what seems like the story of a terribly repressed man's typical, absolutely pitiful night out and the very unclear decision that follows it over a musical backdrop that mirrors the poor guy's feelings perfectly: no drums, just a quietly building, extremely odd (but somehow catchy) chord sequence that gets more and more unbearably tense over it's six minutes. When the distorted guitar comes in, you're sure the entire track will explode; but no, just like Don would, it all winds back down into the same quiet, repetitive, hypnotic study in self-loathing.

"Washer" features the only sung vocals on the album; guitarist Brian MacMahan, who takes almost all the vocals on the songs (drummer Britt Walford speaks a few lines here and there), sounds more than anything else like a little kid as he confusedly begs someone (presumably the person he's in a relationship with, although who knows) not to be afraid, that he's leaving, but then he begs her not to leave him. If anything, it seems like he's regressing into different emotional states throughout the song. Musically, this song, the longest on the album, works it's way through an arpeggiated, hypnotically repetitive riff that sounds like it's endlessly unfolding, but stops along the way for quieter and quieter musical detours that again builds tension incredibly well until the last section breaks open in a screaming-guitar climax that would almost sound like arena-rock if arena-rock was institutionalized for severe clinical depression.

"Good Morning, Captain," the last and most famous song on the album, is basically like a combination of "Washer" and "Nosferatu Man," except that it's better than both of those songs. There's a quiet, pinging, scraping guitar-only intro, and then drums that somehow manage to imitate oceanic currents (Walford's work throughout the album is nothing short of brilliant), and an unforgettable, incredibly foreboding chordal bass part. The song swells and bashes again and again, finally bursting into another crushing climax, this time furnished with gut-wrenching screams from MacMahan (the guy went and threw up afterwards, according to indie-rock legend - a shaky source, without a doubt, but it's a cute story) and finally washes out in a deadening feedback hum.

10 out of 10. It's a mood album, sure, but a truly great one. No wonder they broke up after this. There's no way they could have topped it. (What do you mean, near-complete critical and commercial indifference had to do with it?)

Add your thoughts?

Slint EP - Touch And Go 1994
Rating = 7

When you name your band after a cross between the words "slit" and "cunt," eventually somebody's going to complain and that's precisely what happened on June 14th, 1989 when Glenn and Rhoda Slit-Cunt sued the band for "fifteen jillion dollars or some songs named after us." The band replied with this EP, recorded in 1989 but shelved on a shelf until 1994 when college radios coast to coast were chomping at their bits for new Slint material. I'll never forget that day back in college at UNC-Chapel Hill where I served as a Disc Jockey on the Local Radio Station (WXYC-FM) when this EP arrived in the mail to a joyous cry of "Slint are back!"... followed a less joyous cry of "Slint aren't back anymore! This was recorded in 1989."

The most inneressingh thing about the all-instrumental, no-vocal EP is that, had anybody actually heard it at the time, it would have reminded them of how shitty Tweeze is while also strongly indicating that the band was well on its weary way to greatness. Side one ("Glenn") sounds like a simplified Spiderland, with a bit more energy and less stark loneliness. In other words, it's dark and hypnotic, tense and dramatic, lean and confident. Clean troubled guitar arpeggios tiptoe atop brooding bass and a strange distorted woobly noise, with loud crisp drums moving everything along for six rock and roll minutes. The song never really goes anywhere, but it sure is catchy! Chop off a couple minutes and it's classic Slint.

Side B, a lengthier re-recording of Tweeze's "Rhoda," begins promisingly with a twisted Spiderland-style distorted riff and nice little harmonics melody before suddenly turning into a worthless absolute pile of sack of piece of shit at the three-minute mark and never returning to anything approaching listenability. But I guess when you can't think up a third part for your song, four minutes of boring, inept sub-Yo La Tengo guitar racket seems as viable as any other solution.

Considering that this EP is sort of a cross between Tweeze and Spiderland, it's weird that they didn't combine the two titles, mix up the letters, and call this EP Wet Sneeze Drip Lad. The only explanation I can think of is that a young boy with a cold must have heard about their devious plans and threatened a lawsuit. And how stupid would you have to be to settle one lawsuit (Glenn and Rhoda Slit-Cunt v. Slint, 1989) by attracting another (Young Boy With Cold v. Slint, 1989)? Pretty dumb indeed. And one thing I cannot and will not tolerate on this web site is dumbness.

Another is eggs.

Fuckin' eggs. FUCK YOU!!!!

You FUCKIN' EGGS!!!!!!

(*flips bird at a hen, just knowing that at some point eggs are going to come out*)

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