Sometimes, Jan Burnett of Dundee, Scotland is Spare Snare all by himself. Sometimes, he records (and plays live) with multi-instrumentalists Alan Cormack, Paul Esposito and Barry James Gibson. The band’s discography includes a flurry of singles, flexi-discs and variant editions, but it’s all worthwhile and ultra-hooky. The home-recorded songs have a uniquely sour drone-pop mood matched by nothing else, and the full-band material is solid indie-rock of the Pavement school.
Disco Dancing compiles both sides of the first three Spare Snare singles (including two very different versions of “Thorns”), adding a noisy instrumental and a second, home-recorded take on the bitter, funny “Skateboard Punk Rocker.” “As a Matter of Fact,” the first single, is especially great: a twisted, out-of-tune guitar whine with Burnett tunefully spitting “I know you’re lying/Because that’s what I’ve heard.”
The misleadingly titled ten-track Live at Home, recorded as a quartet, includes new, mostly rocked-up takes on all the songs from Disco Dancing (two more versions of “Thorns” — well, it is the group’s best song). There’s also the new “Wired for Sound,” “My Better Half” (on CD only), a splendid heartbreak song called “Bugs” and, depending on which edition you get, a slow or fast version of “Call the Birds.” Spare Snare is the American equivalent of Live at Home, with some more noise and tune fragments tossed in as a bonus.