What’s Old is New Again

Posted: October 1, 2013 in New Indie Music

Spineriders

Hello Future Tinglies

Misra Records, 2013

Review by Kent Manthie

Spineriders are a band that originally formed back in the 80s in Lorina, OH. In 1991 they released Hello Future Tinglies which has just been re-released by Misra Records on cassette tapes(!) I guess this is a nod to those hardcore fans of yore who, before the advent of CDs and now MP3 players, would tape each other’s punk albums onto blank tapes and listen to them on their Walkmans.

Sadly, frontman, Jason Molina died earlier this year (2013), back in around March or so. Many people won’t know what they’ve lost – at least not until they listen to this re-released version of Hello Future Tinglies, which was just put out on Misra Records. Not only did Misra put it out in the typical – for these days – CD, but there was also a special cassette tape version put out.

It’s too bad – Molina was a talented and creative part of Spineriders – he was the bassist and sang backing vocals. But the whole band was a force to reckon with. I’ve read some comparisons with some SST bands, legendary early 80s hardcore/punk and I must agree. One band in particular I can’t help thinking of when I listen to this great album, is the legendary band from San Pedro, The Minutemen. Mike McCartney, the singer and guitarist even sounds a bit like the late, great D. Boon, who, tragically, also died too early in a motorcycle accident. But going through the whole album, I also hear a little bit of Minor Threat, Bad Brains and other such archetypal bands from that genre. Even though Spineriders came on the scene in about 1988, they still had that raw punk/garage sound that is timeless: take a listen to such classics as Zen Arcade or Bad Brains’ debut or just about any Minutemen album. Besides being a brash, ballsy belter, McCartney is also an exciting guitarist.

The album starts out with a 2 minute “Intro” and goes into the title track, on which they break out and set the tone for what’s to come. Also, out of 13 songs, there are six instrumentals, simply called “Instrumental 2”, “Instrumental 8”, “Instrumental 3” “…10”, “…7” “…5” and, my favorite instrumental, the closing tune, “Instrumental 1”, a 3:23 slow jam, in which guitarist McCartney uses a slightly distorted guitar to sort of chill out or bring down the high voltage punk tunes to a mellow pitch before ending. Besides the ones I mentioned, songs like “Thunder Junkie”, “Acid Man” and “Stupid” are all both wearing their influences on their sleeve, but doing it in an original fashion. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but what I mean is that they are not necessarily copying Minutemen or Bad Brains, etc. but rather, it shows that these guys must’ve been such huge fans of this genre – hardcore punk – that it was natural that they’d go in that direction, no “copycatting” intended.

One other thing to mention is that the sales of this re-released indie gem is going to benefit the Musicians Emergency Medical Association, a foundation to help those indie bands/singers who, since they are playing music for their careers, forego a typical employee-based healthcare benefit package and are basically on their own, when it comes to any expensive medical procedures. Of course, those who have been without health insurance for a while have been showing up at ERs, where they, by federal law, cannot be denied healthcare – but when it comes to something like cancer treatments or an expensive procedure like a heart surgery or liver transplant and the like, an ER visit isn’t usually enough. As for the unfortunate musicians who are uninsured – that is, except for those bands who’ve been signed to some gilded cage record contract at a corporate record label – they may not provide benefit packages, but if you’re a part of one of those fad bands or bands that started out as indie bands but eventually got offered a contract at one of the many Warner Bros-owned labels, BMG labels, EMI labels, etc. they’ll get plenty of money – at least while they’re popular and if they don’t blow all that cash on cars and houses and dope, they should be able to buy their own insurance policies.

The point is, great bands that are fiercely independent and uncompromising when it comes to dishonest major label dudes, who are not unlike military recruiters: they promise a lot to potential recruits, but when the contract is signed and they assume that what they were told is going to happen – creative control, money issues, like royalty figures, etc, aren’t always forthcoming – plus, once they get on that major label, the label sends over an A & R guy and/or one of their own “producers” who try to get the bands to bend and change – “just a little” here and there, until a couple years later, they’ve turned into an awful fad band – examples: The Replacements: when they were signed to (Sire?) they really went downhill. Tim was the Mats’ last decent album. Their worst album was their very last one before they broke up – All Shook Down, which was awful. Same thing with Soul Asylum – their Grave Dancers’ Union was an embarrassment.

Anyway, it’s nice to hear this 1991 album – even if you’ve never heard it before. It has a timeless quality to it that, at the same time, pays homage to the SST-era bands from the early 80s.

This re-release is also out for a very good cause – the Musicians Medical Association. One reads about this kind of thing now and then in your local “alternative” weekly paper in your city, like LA Weekly or The Bay Guardian (SF) or New Times, etc. about how so-and-so from this or that band has cancer or was in a bad car accident or had some catastrophic thing happen to him or her and because of a lack of health insurance, they are left destitute and I am always heartened when I read how their fellow local bands and other friends come together and donate money to a medical fund for that person and/or play benefit shows to raise money for their healthcare.

It’s a great album and if you didn’t get a chance to hear it back when it first came out in 1991, now’s your chance – take it! – KM.

Spineriders-Tinglies-cover-150x150

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