Smack Dab

  • Smack Dab
  • Queen Crab (Homestead) 1993 
  • Majestic Root (Homestead) 1994 

This quirky Brooklyn combo was formed at the urging of Wm. Berger (here playing drums), who recognized creative sparkle in modern dancer Linda Hagood and encouraged her to take up guitar and songwriting. The duo was joined by bassist Alec Stephens on Queen Crab, a wonderful collection of light, idiosyncratic material like “Big Planet,” “Lucky” and “Dancing Uvula.” With a cartoony Southern voice so high-pitched that many reckoned it to be contrived (it’s not), Hagood fits in with the love rock of Beat Happening and the Mad Scene but shows more musical ambition. Contributions to tribute albums for the Fall and Love around this time showed Smack Dab’s versatility and humor.

After Berger left to concentrate on Uncle Wiggly, newcomer J. Z. Barrell (ex-Alter Boys) brought his studio engineering prowess and add instrumental versatility to the fuller, more mature Majestic Root. Where Queen Crab was a fanciful one-woman show with excellent support, Majestic Root shows Hagood’s positive reflections on love and life in a more adult light, with subdued tones and more intricate arrangements. The agile band covers a great deal of sultry, arty and troubled ground under her indelible stylistic stamp. Stephens exited Smack Dab in 1994 for a career slinging guitar with Railroad Jerk and was suitably replaced by Kansas City’s Jeffrey J. Jensen, a Jonathan Richman fanatic.

Confusingly, there is an eponymous 2007 album by a second group called Smack Dab, this one an unrelated trio containing Spanish musician Paco Loco, Steve Wynn and his wife and drummer, Linda Pitmon.

[Ian Christe]

See also: Railroad Jerk, Uncle Wiggly