Formed in 1986 in Louisville, Kentucky, Slint was a post-hardcore punk band that later evolved into a post-rock band with their 1991 album Spiderland. The group that consisted of vocalist/guitarist Brian McMahan, guitarist David Pajo, and drummer Britt Walford were from various punk acts in the region before coming together with bassist Ethan Buckler. The band met up with Steve Albini, the guitarist for the post-hardcore band Big Black who was also becoming a producer on the rise. The band with Albini would record an album in 1987 that was finally released two years later in a small independent label and eventually released through Touch & Go Records as Tweez.
Produced by Steve Albini with songs written and performed by Slint plus interpretive covers of songs by Chuck Berry, Alex de Grassi, and Led Zeppelin. Tweez is an album where hardcore punk is broken down into a speedy yet fragmented style of playing with syncopated melodies. Featuring a lyrical style that covers a wide range of emotions. The results would be a solid yet chaotic debut album from Slint.
The album opener Ron arrives with squealing guitar notes, sputtering rhythms from its bass and drums. Featuring some spoken and snarling vocals to filled with dark yet abstract lyrics, the song features an array of time signatures with driving guitars and sound effects. Nan Ding is an instrumental piece filled with sparse but frenetic guitar noodling with washy riffs and pulsating drum fills to maintain a dreamy tone. Carol features droning yet soothing guitars with an array of low-key sound effects, filled with breaking glasses, and vibrant rhythms that keeps things going as Brian McMahan sings nostalgic-laden lyrics in a hollow vocal style.
Kent, the longest track on the album at five minutes and forty-nine seconds, is an upbeat yet swanky tune with sparse, pummeling beats and syncopated guitar melodies that changes moods throughout the performance. With its minimalist lyrics that doesn’t say much, it’s a cut that explores the idea of minimalist melodies with different guitar styles and melodies that is one of the album’s key tracks. Charlotte arrives with its droning yet slow-building riffs and crashing drums before it becomes a powerful, mid-tempo piece with McMahan’s snarling vocals singing indecipherable words as it plays with it different moods. Darlene is led by swooning guitar arpeggios, wobbly bass line, sputtering drum fills, and McMahan’s soft vocals singing about a couple of people who were once lovers. The performance starts to slowly build momentum as the drums start to get more intense along with the melodic guitars as it aims for an array of moody time signatures.
Warren is a fast-paced track with driving guitars and pummeling beats as Edgar Blossom sings to abstract lyrics as the track revels in its frenetic yet wailing presentation with squealing guitar. Pat is led by a smooth, arpeggio-laden guitar melody and sparse, rumbling beats with spoken-words lyrics of strange lyrical content as the song’s tempo changes for a smooth, jazzy guitar flourish and later, a reggae style rhythm. The closing track is the instrumental Rhoda that is a mid-tempo track with steady drum fills and swirling guitar sounds that later turns into a fast-paced track with wailing guitars and rumbling beats to close the album.
Released in 1989 on the obscure indie label Jennifer Hartman Records, the album didn’t get much attention until they were signed to Touch & Go Records. The band at the time, had also recorded a 12” single that was supposed to be released with the album in its original release. Yet, it would remain unreleased until 1994 as the two instrumental tracks were released as the band’s self-titled EP that featured an extended reinterpretation of the song Rhoda, that is more intense in its performance with more wailing guitars and hard-hitting beats, and an unreleased track called Glenn. The latter of which featured melodic guitar arpeggios, hollow but steady drum fills that features chugging sounds that pop up every now and then.
While it may not have the brilliance of its follow-up Spiderland, Tweez is still an excellent yet adventurous debut album from Slint. It’s a record that reveals where the band started out and how some of the punk ideas would come into the making of Spiderland. On its own, it’s a very interesting yet esoteric record that is very abstract but also extremely punishing in its performance and in Steve Albini’s raw yet direct production. In the end, Tweez is a stellar and menacing album from Slint.
Slint Reviews: Spiderland
© thevoid99 2011