The Spiny Anteaters self-released their debut single on their own Baby Universe label in early 1994. "Soundcheck" reminded us of the grimy pop of early Creation artists like Meat Whiplash and Slaughter Joe. kranky got in touch with the quartet, based in Ottawa, Canada and they agreed to make a couple of albums for us.
The quartet is made up of Cathy Cheshin on drums and vocals, Ray Bayliss on guitar and vocals, Marianne Heisz on bass guitar and vocals and Andrew Heisz on guitar and vocals. Putting together a basement studio, they released their debut album, All Is Well, in the fall of 1994.
In July of 1994, Bill Meyer wrote in The Chicago Reader that
"Ottawa's Spiny Anteaters, a quartet that, based on its forthcoming debut album All Is Well (kranky), buries fragile pop melodies and shy vocalizing under a compost heap of guitar noise, tape hiss, blurry rhythms and murky bass. The few press clips the band's garnered babble about My Bloody Valentine, but this combo has no preoccupation with that
band's high volume, instead couching its tunes in a rickety lo-fi haze."
Later that summer in Pop Watch he noted that
"this is the kind of a band that can take a stage and turn around a partisan crowd that's never heard of them, making them fans by performance's end. I know, it happened to me."
David Daley said in the Jan. 1995 issue of Alternative Press that
"Tantalizingly slow, the Anteaters' best songs emerge fuzzily from a codeine-haze that makes you wonder how they can be so restrained. Riveting percussion, a wind-swept feel and lighter-than-air songs that at times seem about to float away."
The Spiny Anteaters played select shows along the east coast and worked on their second kranky album, as well as releasing a second single on Baby Universe and contributed to the Follow the Bouncing Ball compilation on the Ba Da Bing! label. The time the band took recording their second album, Current, and their freewheeling, improv/feedback fest live shows asserted themselves on the opening, twenty-minute pastiche on the album.
Moving from the "Curent" theme, across a number of ideas, and ending with a cover of Wire's "Lowdown", The Spiny Anteaters amply proved that they were more than a lo-fi pop band.
"...this Canadian quartet creates its pieces just as much from beauty as from chaotic noise, and their songs can range from an onslaught of distortion to more minimal arrangements. Feedback-strewn melodies are laced with psychedelia-tinged riffs reminiscent of bands like Loop and Spacemen 3... The over fifteen minute, six segment 'Current', comprising a good part of the album, demonstrates the many moods and structures to which the Anteaters can successfully summon their muse: from reeling guitar noise, to subtle and pleasant pop, to experimental bedlam... The album overall is less understated and more consistent than the debut and mines their noisier tendencies... The Spiny Anteaters are not only a good deal more interesting than a number of post-shoegazer 'fuzz pop' bands around, but are more willing to experiment and travel beyond the expected."
Anna Giuliani, Sample Magazine Spring/Summer 1997
All is Well