I was frickin' overjoyed to score a ticket to the March 18th showing of Lance Bangs' new Slint documentary Breadcrumb Trail at Nighthawk Cinema in Williamsburg. (On the off chance that you were at this showing, I was one of the two lucky schmucks who were given an absolutely *free* copy of Spiderland on vinyl before the show started.) Anyhow, here are the first 10 things that popped into my head when I sat down to write this entry.
1.) Spiderland is, in my opinion, one of the very finest albums by anyone ever, somewhere in my all-time top 40. The music on Spiderland is harrowing and disturbing in a way unlike anything I've ever heard, and the performances on the album are impeccable. Not to mention that there's no fucking way a band like Mogwai would exist without it. So there.
2.) That being said, Tweez is barely-listenable, horribly produced, scattershot garbage. I tend to closely agree with the opinions of the great Mark Prindle on that one.
3.) One of the most visually striking things about the film is how incredibly young the bandmembers looked during the period when they wrote / recorded Spiderland, despite the fact that they were mostly all college sophomore age during that time. Have a gander at the trailer below and try to tell me it's not at least a little disturbing to watch what appears to be a bunch of pre-pubescent kids hammering out the groove to "Good Morning Captain." *shudder*
4.) Britt Walford is a fucking weirdo, god bless him. But he is largely acknowledged as being the band's creative engine - not only was his drumming phenomenal, but he apparently wrote a lot of Spiderland's guitar parts, contributed to the lyrics, and actually performed many of the vocals, too. (Not to give too much away, but Steve Albini confirms that the Jesus Lizard song "Mouthbreather" is written about a tumultuous spell Walford had housesitting at Albini's house.)
5.) Breadcrumb Trail is lovingly researched. It generally treads similar ground as the excellent 33-1/3 volume about Spiderland, but it's naturally more engaging to hear and see the stories told first person by the actual band members, their circle of friends and family members.
6.) The band (and the filmmakers behind Breadcrumb Trail) clearly aimed to avoid stripping away too much of the mystique that surrounds Spiderland. In particular, the somewhat typical reasons given for the band's breakup (which actually occurred prior to the album's release) and the lack of information dealing with Brian McMahan's hopitalization following the Spiderland sessions left me wanting more.
7.) Probably by design, there's very little mentioned about the band's musical influences; from memory, only the Jesus Lizard, Big Black, and The Minutemen are actually credited in that capacity during the movie. (I would've personally thought that the band members probably listened to a lot of early Swans, but what the hell do I know.) Instead, more emphasis is placed on the Louisville "scene" that each of the bandmembers emerged from, and at several points it's pretty much implied that their main influences were, in fact, each other, with Walford's dazzling creativity and McMahan's attention to detail and work ethic being perfect foils for one another.
8.) No, Slint is not a cross between the words "slit" and "cunt." It was just the name of a fish Walford had when he was growing up.
9.) A large part of the movie is spent establishing that the members of the band truly enjoyed each others' company, and that they were all given to typical immature toilet humor, just as normal teenage boys are. In other words, if you thought the guys who wrote and performed "Don, Aman" simply had to've been morose, psychotic nutjobs, that's not the case at all.