Supersuckers: Holdin' the Bag

Supersuckers' impenetrable wall of defiance and desperation remains as rock solid as ever.


Holdin' the Bag

Label: Actetate
Release date: 2015-10-16

“I don’t want to be the one left holdin’ the bag”.

With that somewhat downcast lyric Supersuckers intro their latest album, Holdin’ the 
Bag, using this weary title track to reflect not only the band’s particular circumstances -- specifically, lead singer and main architect Eddie Spaghetti’s recent diagnosis of stage four throat cancer -- but the rebellious reputation they’ve ingrained over the entire course of their career. When they follow up that understated opener with the pissed off assertion that, “This life would be a whole lot better if I didn’t have to share it with you” (sung alongside special guest Hayes Carll) it’s already clear, a scant two songs in, that they’re still wearing their antagonistic attitude on their collective sleeves.

Of course, that’s been the Supersuckers’ calling card for more than two decades and a trajectory that’s found them repeatedly crossing the transom between raging, insurgent, renegade rock ‘n’ roll and outspoken, often outrageous outlaw country. Holdin’ the Bag finds them leaning towards the latter, but rather than tossing out a series of tears in your beer ballads and then wallowing in self-pity, Spaghetti and company come out swinging with their usual spit and sass. “Man on a Mission” stays true to its title with an unyielding determination that clearly marks their mantra. And when they follow that with “I Can’t Cry", this one featuring a duet with Lydia Loveless, the pace might slacken, but the impenetrable wall of defiance and desperation remains as rock solid as ever.

Then again, it’s not like Spaghetti to lighten up even at this point, his illness notwithstanding. This is the same band that gave their albums such irascible handles as Motherfuckers Be Trippin’ and Devil’s Food. And let’s not forget The Value of Nothin’, the title accorded one of Spaghetti’s four solo outings. Here too, it’s telling that one of the album’s most engaging tracks, “I Can Do What I Can (To Get By)” complements its easy saunter and pedal steel shimmer with a statement of absolute intent. While songs such as “Jibber Jabber” and “Let’s Bounce” spew venom on those for whom they have little use, it’s clear that they’ll let nothing stand in their way as far as pursuing their path, as well worn as it may be. “Life is kind of screwy / You’ve got to ask for the things you need", Spaghetti insists on “That’s How It Gets Done", yet another statement of purpose as well as a shared secret to all those who are too tepid to get the things they need.

“You got to shoot off your mouth / You got to stand up and shout/Make sure they know what you’re talking about".

That’s really all anyone needs to know about the Supersuckers. A no-nonsense, unapologetic bunch, the album’s final entry, “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)", find them lambasting some better known rebels and raconteurs (Steve Earle, Motörhead’s Lemmy) who have slipped into the complacency of acceptability, amending Hank Williams’ Jr. edgy anthem to get their point across. It’s an apt way to end a set of songs so rife with rebellion, because clearly, Supersuckers have plenty of spit and sass still to share.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.