Dan Webb & the Spiders – Much Obliged (album)

Much Obliged coverDan Webb and the Spiders hail from Boston, and formed in 2009. Since then they’ve wasted little time, recording three full-length records, toured Europe and the US Midwest and East Coast, and shared stages with one of my favourite bands – The Sainte Catherines – alongside other punk rock luminaries such as The Slow Death, Thousandaires, Lemuria and The Dopamines. Much Obliged is their third album.

Biographies! What a fine way to start a review they are.

I’d not heard of these guys before they contacted me with a review request, but I’m damn glad they did: rough-edged but tight melodic punk rock with gruff vocals, sing-along choruses and sweet chord progressions that deliver their payload in under three minutes are pretty much the definition of ‘my thing’.

One of my favourite songs, ‘Brothers’, doesn’t really sound so special on paper. Its lyrical refrain is “I’d like to tell you that it’s okay”; a simple, bland phrase by itself, but when it hits your ears – with or without backing vox – it’s a special punk rock moment. A fist-in-the-air, crowd screaming along type of moment. That may be hyperbole, but I don’t really care because given half a chance I’d be straining my vocal chords with an arm shot straight up.

Other top picks include ‘Number 13′, thanks to its cool chord progressions and fun lyrics like “dancing on a street sign / such a novel solution”, and opener ‘City By the Sea Pt. II’ from which I get a strong Murder City Devils vibe (coming from me, that is high praise indeed). There’s also ‘The Right Thing’ with its deft electro-acoustic picking and strong backing vocals; this song appears towards the end of the album and is a breath of fresh air.

Elsewhere the band test the water of different territories, as with the campfire Country singalong ’28 Years’ – not a song that does much for me personally as I didn’t grow up around the genre, but it sounds pleasant enough – and the mid-pace rocky number ‘Flyover Country’ which goes for a more soulful approach. It’s a little loose and meandering and at points the two lead guitar lines amble around as if not fully aware of each other, but it’s still got its moments.

Going back to what I mentioned above, Dan Webb contacted me about this record having read what I wrote about The Cold Beat (about a million years ago back in February); he also plays with that band. There are certainly some similarities between the two bands, although I’d not have noticed them without the connection being made elsewhere. And while I enjoyed Get Safe, I did note that it was a record that it is easy to be ambivalent about. By contrast, Much Obliged is a record I find it easy to get excited about. This doesn’t really reflect anything other than Dan Webb and the Spiders offering a lot of songs that are closer to what I love most, but that open subjectivity is the nature of a record review.

So yeah, Much Obliged. I like it a lot, despite or perhaps because of its rough edges and flaws, and suggest that you find out if you do too.

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