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Spiderland (33⅓ #75)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Of all the seminal albums to come out in 1991—the year of Nevermind, Loveless, Ten, and Out of Time, among others—none were quieter, both in volume and influence, than Spiderland, and no band more mysterious than Slint. Few single albums can lay claim to sparking an entire genre, but Spiderland—all six songs of it—laid the foundation for post rock in the 1990s. Yet for so ...more
Paperback, 147 pages
Published November 11th 2010 by Continuum
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33⅓
32nd out of 113 books — 44 voters


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Ben Winch
Very dry, not very detailed book about one of the most seminal, mysterious albums since punk. Still, when there's so little information around you're happy for all you can get. At least the author knows music enough to be able to discuss chord sequences and time-signatures (astonishingly rare among rock writers), and a few basic facts help put the album in context: that Slint rehearsed their arrangements meticulously/obsessively for 4 months prior to recording; that the vocals had never been put ...more
Andrew
Scott Tennent's entry into the 33 1/3 series opens with a family tree of sorts, a graphic organizer listing every band that each member of Slint has ever played in. What follows is a thorough and heartfelt love letter not just to Slint, but to the fruitful Midwest underground scene that they were a part of. I've read a few of these 33 1/3 books now, and Mr. Tennent's is the best-written one that I have yet encountered. He writes in a direct, unpretentious manner that reveals his deep, geeky love ...more
Aengus
Slint's first LP, "Spiderland" is often credited as the record that launched a thousand indie rock bands (if you don't believe me, look at the wonderful indie rock genealogy chart in the back of Scott Tennent's "Spiderland).
It introduced the whisper to full volume effect popularized by The Pixies and Nirvana.Most of the members of Slint were still teenagers when they recorded "Spiderland", but they were already accomplished musicians. Shortly after the recording, Slint as a group drifted apart a
...more
Efe Saydam
An interesting and well-researched insight into this enigmatic band and their seminal album Spiderland that goes some ways in removing the secrecy behind the making of the album, but thankfully does little to remove the haunting mystery of the music. Still though, one gets the feeling that the picture is incomplete as only half the band were interviewed for the book, but the author fills in the rest of the story with information provided by the willing members (Pajo, Brashear). Would have been n ...more
Brian Shevory
A great look at the seminal Louisville punk band that not only produced some of the major players in the midwest Post-Rock movement, but also helped to establish, in Steve Albini's words, the sound of the 90's with the little heard, but much heralded album "Spiderland". Tennent makes apt comparison between Slint's album and Eno's observation about the Velvet Underground's works. What was most enjoyable and surprising about Spiderland is how young the members of Slint were. Tweeze, the album made ...more
Jason
This series is hit or miss, and it almost feels like the "1 album per book" premise is flawed, because so far all of my favorite editions are the ones that break the rules and tell the entire story of a band instead. The Neutral Milk Hotel book is a good example of this (a perfect book, in my opinion), and I'm happpy to say that Spiderland is right up there with that one.

I've always been a casual Slint fan (I only started listening to them because I'm a huge fan of David Pajo's post-Slint solo
...more
Chris
As I just wrote in another 33 1/3 review, I'm now scraping the "bottom" of the 33 1/3 barrel, in terms of books being about albums I love or know. I do *not*, in fact, know much about Slint or this album at all... *but* that's a reason why I read it-- to get some info about the record, and some enthusiasm built up to listen to it some time soon.

In style and scope, this book reminds me of some other favorites in the series of mine, particularly *Radio City*, in setting up a good context of who th
...more
Grig O'
my favourite 33 1/3 book so far. Tennent approaces the story of Slint and Spiderland with love and thoroughness.

main songwriter B McMahan's voice is sadly missing from the book, but this is still a very insightful account of a unique album and its origins. along with the documentary Breadcrumb Trail, a great companion to some very special music.
Chris
as far as i can tell, this is literally the only published book about slint; sort of surprising, given the reverence they have amongst bands like mogwai, sigur ros, and dozens of other "big" indie acts. at least this document provides a fair amount of insight into the making of this record. there was more than i expected to see in regards to the writing and development of the record (as it was primarily done in the practice space; slint did not often perform live), and an exhaustive background o ...more
Matt
A solid telling of a seminal album and an undercovered-in-their-time band's story. Spiderland has never gripped me too hard, so the chapter describing the album itself left me kind of flat, but the reporting on the band's history and dynamics is good, despite missing a few key voices.
Andrew Kleimola
I had difficulties with the book stemming from the author's decision to break the rules, and tell the entire Slint story rather than just the story of Spiderland. The band's story feels incomplete though, since we only hear from 2 band members. I understand the desire to tell the full story, beginning with pre-Slint bands, especially with the dearth of information available that directly relate to Spiderland.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and informative read. As someone who knows nothing about s
...more
HTHI English Spring 2015
"The series is written by different people who tell the story behind different albums. If you like the band, you'll like the book." --Manny (Spring '15) *****
Tim Trentham
Interesting background in combination with the documenatary. Like most 33 1/3 books, you obviously need to be interested in the band / album to enjoy it.
Nathan
This book was a lot better than I expected, especially considering my adoration of said album. Back stories of dudes who just love to play music always fascinates me, and this band really holds tight to that concept, so no complaints there. Even the traditional fare of song by song detail was written uniquely, as far as the series goes, which made that a bit more manageable. The opening of course, was the best, and leaves me to wonder how many of the books will be brilliant from start to finish?
Brendan
like the documentary but not as good
Doug
I read this in one sitting in an auto repair shop in Portage, Indiana. Nice bio of the mysterious boys in the water, and the incestuous Louisville scene that birthed them. Solid analysis of their masterwork Spiderland, with only one caveat: the author didn't have access to Brian McMahon or Britt Walford, i.e. the two guys that wrote all the songs. I would have loved to know where their heads were when they made this sui generis record.
Adam
Tennent does an admirable job making an intentionally difficult work accessible. His research is plentiful and his language precise, surprising, and illuminating. But, Slint being Slint, this was a book that would never achieve the complete picture (As if there were one); Without half of the musicians involved (McMahan and Walford declined interviews), how could it?
Jesse
Handy (and obviously Slint-focused) history of the Louisville punk scene. The play-by-play descriptions of the songs on "Spiderland" were detailed but less handy, and wish they'd been integrated into the narrative and analyzed ala Douglas Wolk's fantastic 33 1/3 entry on "Live at the Apollo."
Wittgenstein's Mistress
An illuminating exploration of the album, the band and the Louisville scene in the mid-late 80s. Its frustrating that the two most important members were the ones that declined interview, but that clearly isn't the author's fault. Solid contribution to the 33 1/3 series.
Andy Peters
Excellent overview of Slint's career (such as it was), especially the band members' backgrounds.
The main flaw, not that it's author Tennent's fault, is that Brian McMahon and Britt Walford refused to be interviewed for the book. Surely, their insights are missed.
Jay Westermann
I love spiderland, but not so much after reading the book. Tennent is a little obsessive or just doesn't know when to stop, this book gets REALLY boring. The good parts are great, but it could be a lot shorter (considering the album is 30 minutes long.)
Jason
The voyage through how this anomaly of a record came to be and how it was brought forth then left behind are much more interesting than the song by song discourse. I am glad the author chose to take that route when telling this tale.
Larry
It was cool reading about the history of slint and the making of their albums but the way he dissects Spiderland and it's "arpeggios" and breaks down the lyrics like an 8th grade book report was pretty lame.
Amy
The information and analysis is great, but it lost a star for some sloppy writing that I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't read it alongside student papers.
Robert
Everything you wanted to know about Slint but was afraid to ask
Joseph
If the album were this good, the book would be unnecessary.
John Meffen
good album, good book
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