Published May 22, 2020Daniel Romano switches gears (and time periods) for Spider Bite, his sixth album of 2020 so far. Romano, the father of "mosey," embodies a very different character for this project — gone is the honky-tonk hero at the centre of 2015's If I've Only One Time Askin' and the gentle folk poet in 2018's Finally Free. Spider Bite takes the artist into new retro territory: a surprise-release album that pays tribute to the '70s punk movement.
The songs on Spider Bite are high-energy and raw, and on first listen, the 18-minute album could easily be dismissed as a one-note take on the genre; however, there's a richness to Romano's celebration of the early punk scene that demands repeat — and careful — listening. This is an album worth studying.
In paying homage to an established genre, Romano risks sacrificing innovation for fidelity. Thankfully, within the familiar beats and patterns of the punk-rock hard-driving guitar and drums are layered moments of the pathos and creativity long-time fans are accustomed to hearing. The second half of "Red Dawn" features subtle swells that impart a sweetness to the otherwise aggressive track, while the chord progressions and time changes in "Heat Wave" are slightly off convention, defying expectations.
Romano's album is a collaboration with his brother Ian Romano and Constantines' Steven Lambke. It's an impressive product given the current global circumstances, and the musicality more than makes up for its short length. Spider Bite is an undeniably fun romp through an exciting and provocative style of music. (You've Changed)