Chapel Hill’s music scene has been relatively quiet since Mammoth Records founder Jay Faires sold his label to, of all companies, Disney in 1998. The label that housed the Blake Babies, Chainsaw Kittens, Joe Henry, and Victoria Williams was eventually folded into Disney’s Hollywood Records in 2003, and suddenly the city that gave rise to Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and the Ben Folds Five was no longer the “next Seattle.”
Even with the hype machine gone, however, Chapel Hill has been quietly churning out a number of excellent bands. Chief among these is Spider Bags, who in five years have risen to become one of the must-see bands in the area. It’s been a quiet evolution – their 2007 folk-rock debut A Celebration of Hunger didn’t create too much buzz, but 2009’s Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World unleashed a more fuzzed-out rockabilly sound which got them larger notice outside of their home state. Their raucous, alcohol-fueled live shows didn’t hurt either, and they garnered some serious street cred when Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles proclaimed them the greatest band in the world.
Now the band has released their third full-length, Shake My Head (on Chapel Hill’s own Odessa Records) and it’s pure gold; a 10-track, 35 minute barnburner of an album which eschews the earlier country sound in favor of a harder-rocking sound.