Mean Red Spiders – Still Life Fast Moving

Mean Red Spiders
Still Life Fast Moving

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Go ask Mr. Owl, ’cause today our topic of discussion is how many listens it takes to get to the heart of an extremely dense audio recording by the band Mean Red Spiders, Still Life Fast Moving. It’s definitely more than three.
This is seriously fierce production, massive in scope, and absolutely thick with sound and aural tricks sure to keep you listening for months and months just trying to unravel the levels of music happening on each song. Rob Boak (guitar), Greg Chambers (guitar), Minesh Mandoda (ambiance, effects, multi-instrumentalist), Lisa Nighswander (bass, vocals), and Adam Rosen (drums, percussion) conspire to create a spacious soundscape that’s as romantic and dreamy as it is intense. Bursting with syrupy synths, jangly guitars, melodic, grooving bass, breathy, melodic vocals, feedback and distortion guitar textures, and odd sonic characters created by samples, glockenspiel, and production to test the most dedicated stereophile’s system, this disc is definitely very modern in it’s delivery.
But the question is, what is it delivering? And the answer, my friend is AM radio. That’s right – shrouded beneath all that dense production and instrumentation beats a pop radio heart that’s older than the King of Pop himself. The packaging is avant-garde, but its soul is old, as old as the first simple melodies sung by the first Western pop artists. It sure doesn’t sound old coming from MRS though. Often it’s barely recognizable, but it’s there, and it sounds really, really good in their hands.
Face it: at this point in the time line of popular music, there isn’t much that hasn’t been done. It’s not like musicians and bands are inventing new instruments or some whole new method of expressing musical notes. The melodies and song structures that are being performed are essentially the same as they’ve always been. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes in a minor key, but basically just floating from one popular music genre to another over the years. Modern music is all about the medium. What keeps it fresh and keeps people listening is the performer’s ability to lend new spirit to the performance of what is, technically, an incredibly stale loaf of bread.
MRS do this perfectly, and for that, they get the Gold Star for the day. Songs like “They Only Met Once,” “First and Only,” “Advance to Illinois,” and “Awkward Over Coffee” are sweet and brilliant enough to hook, but (most importantly) obscure enough stand up to repeated listenings. So slip on the headphones and drift off into a still life of your own.