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Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Itsy-bitsy frenzy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 8, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Mean Red Spider (n): any of numerous oscillating predatory arachnids, having a body divided into two parts; a monotone hum bearing multiple legs and an abdomen with silky, sound-secreting guitars. Its white-noise webs serve as comfortably subversive nests and traps for prey. Oh, and it sounds great too.

STARSANDSONS, Mean Red Spiders’ latest endeavor, hurls you into vocals like Lush that are caught in whirlwind-driven guitars. It immediately whisks you up into a melodic frenzy that ebbs and flows from one song to the next. “Left” walks at the pace of a tortoise, building a wall of sound as soothing as sleeping in a room next to the ocean. This is followed by the accelerating and agitated “Glass,” with vocals like a female force out of some Greek myth, enticing you to do something for her. “Glass” journeys into “Secret” and the female force becomes a tranquilizing Julee Cruise companion, slowing you down to the mental frequency of REM, only to be thrust into the jump-roping guitars of “Yes, I Call.” Although the pace may differ from song to song, they all possess a humming ribbon of tone — a monotonous drone, like the buzz of a bagpipe. This pulls the whole record together and lulls you into an amniotic-hypnotic state like a tempestuous Stereolab. The tracks are also laced with space sounds. Not the fake-space noises off a Moog keyboard, but the deep, organic repetitions you might hear in total darkness while waiting to land on an untouched planet. There’s a spiritual quality inherent in this white noise-pop group that helps you leave whatever state of mind you choose to live in and visit their My Bloody Valentine-on-Mars world, even if it’s just for a little while. Mean Red Spiders have tapped into a familiar but unusual, spacious but chaotic, universal language of the air and wrapped it all up in a pop-rock CD.

STARSANDSONS is a wonderful place to be, even though spiders bite. But don’t worry, Mean Red Spiders live in Toronto, are supervised when on tour and are perfectly safe when recorded.

Mean Red Spiders play Xhedos, Friday, Nov. 10 (240 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale). Call 248-399-3946.

Anita Schmaltz writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


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