Shellac

Steve Albini again
*special introductory paragraph
*The Rude Gesture (A Pictorial History) 7"
*Uranus 7"
*The Bird Is The Most Popular Finger 7"
*At Action Park
*Live In Tokyo
*Billiardspielerlied 7"
*The Futurist
*Terraform
*1000 Hurts
*Excellent Italian Greyhound


Shellac was (is? Or have they broken up? Anyone?) the third trio fronted by world-famous complaining guy/engineer Steve Albini of Big Black/Rapeman fame. He plays the guitar and sings, Bob Weston is on the bass, and Todd Trainer is drumming all over town. Most of their music is midtempo, extremely practiced and perfected, and although not that difficult to play, often calls for an incredible amount of faultless repetition for minutes on end (especially on the part of the bassist, whose fingers must be tired as HELL by the end of one of their songs!). However, Steve has always been a king of writing great little guitar licks, and sometimes you just want to hear a drummer who hits his instrument really loudly. One thing to be aware of however is that one of the key elements of their style is to lock the scratchy midtoned edgy guitar and over-disciplined bass rigidly into a hard-hitting but non-rolling drumbeat (and the spaces between the beats), resulting in an anxiously simmering, obsessive tension that winds up and up and up, and NEVER offers release, even if the band starts playing louder and screaming. So quite often a song will end and you're left with a big scrunchy foot in your chest, screaming, "PLAY FASTER AND LESS RIGIDLY, YOU ASSPIPES!" And every once in a while, they do. But don't count on it. You'd better be in it for the pissed-off riffs, rubberband tightness and always-interesting vocals of Steve Albini. Because if you're looking for headbanging catharsis, this band is going to bore the living strings out of you.

Reader Comments

ikillpetsandsmallchildren@yahoo.com
Shellac is like having to pee badly and being locked into some type of social/physical restraint so you are unable to do so. While this can be (literally) stimulating at times, generally it is frustrating and annoying.

(I am not sure if this is a compliment).


The Rude Gesture (A Pictorial History) 7" - Touch And Go 1993
Rating = 8

It's always nice to hear Steve Albini again. It's been too long! How are the eyeglasses? I remember when this single came out, and how hard it was to tell whether Shellac was going to be a worthwhile project over the long run. It was clear from the getgo that, although retaining the same basic form as Rapeman (a three-piece that builds its music from big huge drum beats, slicing slashy guitars and deep booming bass guitar thuds), Shellac was tighter, louder and much more focused. There was no hint of the industrial punk-rock and high-pitched trebly earbleed guitars of Big Black, but Steve's voice was still certainly Steve's voice. Angry, pushy, belligerent, arrogant, and sick of you! He's so sick of you!

However, the band's debut premier entre into the excited ears of loud college rock fans worldwide was.... you know, a really short single with three songs on it. Who can tell a band's worth by three songs -- especially a band as dependent upon restraint and tension-without-release as this one? I'll describe each song briefly and then we'll have a short quiz:

"The Guy Who Invented Fire" -- This song SHOULD kick some ass. The bass line so dark, the drums so angry, Steve so gravelly -- but nope. They just play one basic musical hook about twenty times in a row, Steve does a little ZZ Top solo jig on top, and it ends after two short verses. But they're FUNNY verses! Laugh at this - it's funny! "Invent a fire/ Gonna lay down in it/ Learn a lesson/ What could they do with it/ Invent a fire/ And keep it under my hat/ There's a lot of people out there/ Could use a thing like that/ Invent a boat/Make it out of wood, make it float/ Cut it up into firewood, burn it/ A fire/ Worth more/ Than the boat" Now see that? That's CLEVER! Unfortunately, most of Shellac's lyrics are more abstruse, obtuse and chartreuse than thuse (at least until 1000 Hurts bursted through!).

"Rambler Song" - Guest bassist doesn't know how to play, so they turn him way down. This is mainly Steve scratching away at a SINGLE chord and shouting about how his car is a winner. The scriggle-scraggle guitar tone is a wonder to behold, but they'd might as well have named the song "A Man With No Urinary Tract" because it doesn't go anywhere

Do you realize how long it would have taken a NORMAL person to come up with a "joke" that unwitty? Come on, cherish me. You don't know how many times I've wished that I could turn you into someone who could cherish me as much as I cherish you. And then along comes Mary! (*smokes marijuana, has no further chart success*)

"Billiard Player Song" - THIS is the true proof that Shellac could become something great. An emotional "emo"-style guitar lick, very slow and hard breaks, actual CHANGES, sorrowful lyrics and even a heartfelt performance by Caustic Steve. He actually sounds like he CARES about the characters in his story. "He promised her anything/ He never had to deliver/ He promised her everything/ Ask yourself if you could do better/ He promised her anything/ She caught on/ A lot of people say she's crazy/ But I know a lot of people/ And I think she's all right!.... /....HE LIED TO HER!!! WITH A PERFECTLY STRAIGHT FACE!" See? Don't you feel his emotions? That's because he's Guy Picciciiciiciiiciiciicoti, the most emotional man in the record industry.

Then it's over and what? It's over! You can listen to it again but the quality is not going to change. Track one is still going to be brooding, witty and short; track two is still going to be one neat-sounding chord over and over; and track three -

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. Track three just turned into a butterfly and flew right off the vinyl!

Okay, I promised you a quiz and I always deliver (the milk) (up your wife's ass). Try to answer these questions without looking back at the review. Send me your answers care of this post office box.

I. What would Steve Albini be if he stopped taking female hormones?

II. Whose car was a winner? Was it (a) the guy who invented billiards, (q) the fire player, or (b) the man who owns a car called the Rambler and keeps talking about what a winner it is. And what time did he like to get up during the day?

III. Complete this sentence: "Steve Albini is a MOTH _ _ - _ _ _KING _ _ _ _OLE."

For the answers, please turn your screen upside-down and look below.

.

.

.

He is the king of moths in Mexico. I couldn't figure out how to write that upside-down. - III

NOON + q - II

55378008 - I

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Uranus 7" - Touch And Go 1993
Rating = 8

Like a delicatessan trying to fold a map, this single is "too Schwartz!!!" (too short). HA HA! But then again -- if every single was really long, no woman would EVER get married! HAHAHAH! HEEE!

Well, we're off to a great start so let's not waste any more time on the niceties. Shellac's back with "Doris" and "Wingwalker." "Doris" features a simple up-down note riff wrapped within an unorthodox (and not necessarily pleasant) chord sequence, along with a two-chord screamed chorus. The drumbeat, like so many Shellac drumbeats, is full of stops and starts rather than rolling free as the wind like a rock and roller on the night. The lyrics involve a woman who is homely and has a bad life, but when she sings, miracles happen. What kinds of miracles, you wonder? Steve Albini's kind of miracles! "The fat man becomes an ice-skater/Maniac becomes a stepfather/I watch a policeman's mouth/Out comes an honest word/Miracles happen when Doris sings/ Couples in love stop dead in their tracks/ Dishes clatter to the ground unbroken/ Politicians die."

Side B is one of those "classic" Shellac tunes that they still write about in academic texts, but interestingly, it's essentially a pastiche of Birthday Party and Jesus Lizard elements. I know what you're thinking and saying; the Jesus Lizard was basically a pastiche of Birthday Party and Big Black elements. Well true yes, but that doesn't mean that Steve Albini can't borrow influences BACK from those he influenced in the first place. His minor-key arpeggiations in "Wingwalker" are very obviously influenced by Duane Denison's playing, right down to the guitar tone used. And that wicked head-swaying speed/sicko bass line? That's a slight variation on the Birthday Party's "Hamlet (Pow Pow Pow)!" Still, neither of the parts are out-and-out RIPOFFS, and obviously neither the Birthday Party nor the Jesus Lizard ever recorded a blistering cymbal solo topped by a guy screaming, "LOOK AT ME! I'M A PLANE!!!" Unless it was just on a Peel Session or something.

Say, did you hear Johnny Carson died? I made up a hilarious Top Ten List for David Letterman to read, but so far I haven't seen it aired so I'll share it with you:

DAVID LETTERMAN'S TOP TEN REASONS JOHNNY CARSON DIED

10. Remember some-odd years back when he gave his time slot to Jay Leno? Who gives a fuck whether you do or not - I'm the one who got screwed out of my dream job by a giant pile of dogshit with a chin
9. I poisoned him in such a way that it would look to doctors like emphysema
8. Jay Leno sucked his dick so hard, his brain finally squirted out the end
7. Fake golf swings cause AIDS.
6. So he'd finally have a bunch of old bags from 1942 to think he was funny again.
5. Potato chip was radioactive.
4. Hell was tired of waiting for Jeff Altman
3. Karma for the twenty years of insults that drove Ed McMahon into serial killing
2. His bad habit of enjoying a nice cigarette after fucking little kids

And the number one reason Johnny Carson died:

1. He's been obsolete since I took his place as the most boring, worthless, past-his-prime talk show host alive

Jeez, that turned out a lot more bitter than I meant it to. I actually don't really care one way or another about any of those guys.

But I guess you can't stop the CoMeDy!!!!!!

And that's my script for Mr. Saturday Night, Pt. II, starring Billy Crystal's ass as Billy Crystal's face.

That's right! FUCK YOU, EVERYBODY WHO'S BEEN MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN ME!!!!!! (*cries, throws another beer can at imaginary fly on the ceiling*)

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The Bird is the Most Popular Finger 7" - Drag City 1994
Rating = 8

This single features an instrumental version of soon-to-be-vocalled At Action Park highlight "The Admiral" and an instrumental version of soon-to-be-still-instrumental At Action Park instrumental "Pull The Cup." Great sound! Great songs! Unnecessary release in retrospect!

Here's a MySpace bulletin I posted last night:

Subject: Something nobody ever says, but surely lots of people feel

Body: Why am I only ever allowed to vote for a religious nut job?

Okay, maybe that's exaggerating, but look - Palin is a religious nut. Obama is highly Christian. Bush claims he's a born again Christian and talks to God. Even Clinton, when he admitted that he licked that fat cigar whore, said "It's between me, my family and our God."

Why is it considered a MUST-BE that our leaders believe in mythological beings? Why is that considered a GOOD thing? Particularly when, like Bush and Palin, they use it as an excuse to murder people who believe in a DIFFERENT mythological being?

I personally don't believe in God. And if a Creator exists, I highly doubt it's of a sort that any of us dumbasses have thought to consider.

It's an old argument but seriously - if you want to teach Creationism, why not also teach that a Gigantic Poop made the Earth? The theory holds just as much water.

The U.S. is not a Christian nation and was not founded as a Christian nation.Why are so many people so happy to pretend that "Church and State" actually belong together?

As for Christian Ideals, I fail to see any of them in the actions or beliefs of the Republican Party.

I personally don't believe in God, yet somehow I manage to have a moral fiber -- somehow I don't want innocent people to suffer. I'm not a Communist (either real like Marx or fake like Stalin). I am not a Satanist. And most people aren't.

But come on - religion? It's a bunch of nonsense made up by stupid people.Why can't the media just acknowledge this and move on? Because they're afraid that a non-religious person would get into office and just start killing people willy-nilly?

How is that different from what Bush's regime has done in Iraq?

Not that I like Muslims either.

I'm a little tipsy, but come on - religions? Why not just throw all your faith into Garfield The Cat? He's EVERY BIT AS REAL.

Reader Comments

Mcshane123321@aol.com
Your comments on religion pretty much mirror mine, except for the voting bit! I had to put this here since it's a BIT too big for myspace blog comments...

I think that the majority of organized religions - aside from the cool-ish ones like Buddhism that don't try and start up wars with non-believers every other decade or so - stand as visual proof as to how inherently stupid the human race is, was and always will be (unless we start putting some serious effort into educating people, which won't happen because it costs too much, and we already spent a ton of money on firearms to tackle those bad faux-communists in Russia and on troops to tackle those evil Muslims with their imaginary nuclear weapons).

By ascribing to an organised religion, what you (general sense) are essentially doing is having your views and opinions be dictated by a man/men (I'm presuming it was men since the older religions a la Christianity and Judaism were formed at times when men were dominant) whose own answers to the ultimate questions are really no more valid or relevant than your own (had you developed any independence to do so). I mean -- come on! I'm fine with the whole 'suspension of disbelief' thing (is that what it's called?) when it's CHILDREN doing it.

Not that I have a problem with spirituality or believing in a creator. Hell, I don't think any of us could ever claim not to have theorized as to the meaning of life or any of that stuff. But when there's as much scientific evidence as there is, creationism et al. start looking a tad dopey.

If there exists a "devil" and a "God" as according to Christianity, Islam etc., I'm 80% sure that the devil (in the evil, manipulative, murderous sense) had a heavier hand in the creation/development of the human race than God (in the all-loving sense) ever did. Did God give people "free-will" as the Christians say so frequently - oh so often as an excuse for all the bad shit that happens at the hand of man? Did he fuck. Man-made evil is either caused by greed or insanity; two 'emotions' ANY human has the potential to indulge/experience. So since they're part of human nature, THE DEVIL is part of human nature - compare the amount of 'good' happening in the world to the amount of 'bad'; you REALLY think there's any "god" that would make this shit, Holy Joes?

I love how the Bible is full of contradictions and hidden messages - such as how as long as you follow this religion, you'll be fine, but if you stray from the path that we, the noble religious figures, say He wants you to follow, you'll get fucked over. I'd rather burn in hell for an eternity than ascribe to this rubbish, quite frankly.

*RANT OVER*

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At Action Park - Touch And Go 1994
Rating = 8

Hello, I'm Clayton Williams, 1990 Republican candidate for governor in the state of Texas. Yes, I know you haven't heard from me in a while, but that's because I've been working extra-hard on my 'work of a lifetime.' And I'm finally finished! Yes, in today's liberal media-dominated politically correct feminazi society, my fellow Republicans and free thinkers will get a major kick out of my new tome, Rape: The Joke Book. It's not due to hit stores until March, but I'd like to share a few samples for you, just to get the buzz going and the hype interested. So here I go! And you readers who can't see the obvious hilariousness of a woman being brutally attacked at knife point, I'm going to tell you my jokes anyway so, heh heh, "you might as well lie back and enjoy it!"

Ahem. Okay, then. Why did the rapist cross the road?
To get to the other potential rape victim!

Ha ha! Yes, I know. Okay now here's another one for you:

How many rapists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Just one, if he makes his victim hold a light bulb and stand on a ladder as he rapes her around in a circle!

Ha ha! Yes, I know. Okay now here's another one for you:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
A rapist!
A rapist who?
Open the door and I'll tell you!

Ha ha! Yes, I know. Okay now here's a limerick for you:

There once was a man with a dictum
Every night he hired hookers and licked 'em
One night with a buddy
He licked one that was bloody
On the rag? No, she was a rape victim!

Ha ha! Yes, I know. Now to Dave McGinty for a record review.

The album cover is made of scratchy cardboard so it messes up the covers of the records surrounding it. On the inside cover, the album is credited to "Shellac of North America" and the band members are listed as "Bob Weston - mass, Steve Albini - velocity, Todd Trainer - time." The album sleeve features a drawing of the non-existent "Action Park" and an appendix from a first aid book entitled "Resuscitation From Apparent Death By Electric Shock." The album is heavy, thick and black. Also, and I maybe should have mentioned this before accepting this job as music reviewer -- I'm completely deaf. Can't hear a thing.

Hi! Mark Prindle here! Enough guest stars! Let's "rock and roll" with the Ramones! Or Shellac! Shellac play very hard post-punk guitar rock. The bass is distorted and heavy, and often plays very speedy note progressions. The drummer hits his drums EXCEEDINGLY hard, and specializes in creative drum rhythms played at a medium tempo. You'll get very little straight backbeat with this guy - he's more interested in being a fully integrated creative member of the band. Sorta like a much slower, less hyperactive Keith Moon in a way. Vaguely. I mean, he's not all over the kit doing rolls like crazy, but he also doesn't just sit still with a basic simple beat very often. The drumlines he writes are more complicated, innovative, and full of empty spaces. And Steve Albini sets his razor-sharp guitar tone on "NO REVERB," allowing him to cut the scraping, painfully metallic (as in "metal strings," not "heavy metal") chords out of the soundscape immediately if not sooner (IINS) upon his every whim. At their best, Shellac presents a sick, rigid, tight-as-a-nun's-habit rhythm base of double-timed bass and heavy stuck drumbeat as Steve blasts his painful shock guitar and screams at you from the back of the studio. At their worst -- well, we'll get to Terraform in a moment.

A cold, dry hard rock band. That's what Shellac is on their debut album. No keyboards or overdubs. Just three guys playing intriguing, angry music with their shocking scratchy guitar, heavy thudding bass and gigantic drum tone. Influences may or may not include the Jesus Lizard ("My Black Ass" at least SORT OF almost resembles a slower rewrite of "Mouth Breather" -- plus Mac McNeilly's wife wrote the lyrics to "Boche's Dick"), Rapeman (obvious, I suppose, but it's worth mentioning that the squiggly instrumental "Pull The Cup" REALLY sounds like a Rapeman outtake with stronger production), Slint ("The Idea Of North" features their trademark sorrowful yet pretty guitar hook, low mellow bass, spoken vocals and desparately lonely lyrics) and ZZ Top (the aforementioned "Boche's Dick" jives up yo ass with its sleazy blooze chords and Tejas chooglin'). These are only slight influences though, and mostly washed through what I've already described as the signature Shellac style -- three musicians paying attention to each other and making sure that every note and beat is hit at the correct time and place in relation to the other instruments. It is THIS attention that separates the sonically perfect creations of this band from the lackluster, messy stuff that Rapeman produced.

Can this rigidity get boring? Is that what you're asking me? Well, of course, if the riffs are weak. And not every track on here is a stone cold thriller -- "Dog And Pony Show" has its moments but the guitar chords are purposely too ugly to love, the key changes in "Boche's Dick" make no sense at all, and (aside from the drum solo intro) album closer "Il Porno Star" sounds like a slower rewrite of album opener "My Black Ass." But the innovative moments are many many many (e.g. the catchy yet disconcerting upward-rolling guitar bends of "The Admiral"; the minimalist syncopated insanity of "A Minute"'s final minute; the anxious-as-ALL-HELL racing heartbeat rhythm section of "Crow"'s first half, followed by the screaming headbanger rock of its second half), and most of the songs display a compelling attention to arrangement that nearly overshadows the melodies themselves!

So get off the goat, grab your ass bread, and take a trip At Action Park! For a hilarious article about the real-life Action Park, please visit http://www.freezerbox.com/archive/2000/11/actionpark/. Tell 'em "Whoever" sent ya!

Reader Comments

aagmnr@yahoo.com
I'd just like to congratulate you on "coming" up with the "funniest" knock-knock joke ever "."

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Live In Tokyo - NUX Organization 1994
Rating = 8

It's 9/4/08, and Republicans are going nuts over Sarah Palin's speech. Why?! She didn't write it. None of these people write their own speeches - why do we give a shit what they say in them? Because she's a 'fiery speaker'? Great - so was Hitler.

(i compared Palin to Hitler - I THEREFORE WIN THIS ARGUMENT)

Palin is a religious fanatic, a gun nut, a fool and a liar. McCain is 5,000 years old and has a psyche warped by five years as a war prisoner. Obama may be inexperienced, but his record shows that he's at least tried to help people who need help, rather than just supporting whoever's the most "Christian" and rich. I don't know Biden from Adam, so I can't speak about him.

McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time? NINETY PERCENT!? How can people even consider voting for this guy?

Two years ago, when asked what three things she was going to concentrate on most during her time in office, Palin mentioned - as one of her TOP THREE issues - making sure that gays couldn't get married. She phrased it differently of course (something about 'making sure that the definition of marriage stays the way the constitution says it is'), but that was seriously one of the top three topics of importance to her. Or at least she claimed it was, it being a hot-button political issue at the time.

When asked her feelings about the phrase 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, she not only attributed it to 'our founding fathers' (in 1954?!) but added, "If it was good enough for our founding fathers, it's good enough for me!" In a related development, our founding fathers denied women the right to hold office - or even vote. But hey, if it was good enough for them!

If McCain is elected, the world will continue to hate the United States. If Obama is elected, the world will be forced to at least stop and ponder, "Hmm... Okay, let's see what happens here." And if he blows it, we'll dump him in four years.

Obama's going to raise taxes for the middle class 5%. McCain's going to raise them 3%. It's NOT THAT BIG A DIFFERENCE. Obama's going to reduce taxes for the poor and raise them for the rich. I'm fine with that. How much money do the rich really need? Seven houses, like McCain has? I don't even have seven friends, let alone houses.

McCain and Palin argue that 'victory in Iraq is close.' No, it's not. In fact, what do they even mean by 'victory in Iraq'? Have they ever defined that phrase? What would constitute victory in this non-war? Murdering every Iraqi and replacing them with Americans? Because even if we set up a US-friendly government in Iraq, the populace will still hate us. We allowed criminals to loot every important cultural monument in the country, while protecting nothing but the oil fields. We put a huge majority of the Ba'ath Party - and the entire army - out of work, creating unnecessary poverty, hopelessness and anger. We have imprisoned, abused and murdered their citizens, for no reason. We have created this 'insurgency' through our arrogance and complete lack of diplomacy every step of the way. To quote Black Flag, "They hate us, we hate them, we can't win - no way!"

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't vote Republican. The last eight years have not been good for this nation. I'm not Mr. Crazy Obama Supporter Guy, but the Republican Party is becoming more self-righteous, dishonest and willfully ignorant by the day, and we've seen enough of them for now. Even my mother, a lifelong Republican, says that she may have to vote Democrat this year.

Also, Shellac allowed Zeni Geva's record label to release a Japan-only CD of their November 20, 1993 concert performance. It features 7 songs from Action Park and all 5 songs from their first two singles. The recording does a phenomenal job of capturing their powerful live sound (oh! those drums!), but Albini's raspy, intense vocals are a bit buried in the mix. It's not a must-own if you already own the perfectly-well-recorded studio versions, but Shellac sure have some great brooding/simmering rhythm parts, don't they?

Steve Albini, stage patter: "Please! We demand total silence!" (*silence*) "That bit about demanding total silence? That's what we Americans call 'a joke.' Sometimes we say things we don't mean -- we call this 'comedy'!"

Steve Albini, insane narrator of "Wingwalker": "Big aluminum motherfucker!... Hell, metal won't sink in water, much less air!.... I've developed a skill. I can measure a house by eye at a distance. I can tell you its volume. I can tell you the shape of the man that built it.... I disguise my body in the shape of a plane!" Having seen Shellac perform this song at the Duke Coffeehouse in Durham, NC on March 26, 1995, I can add that Albini and Weston spent the extended middle section holding their arms out like wings and waving their bodies back and forth like schizophrenic people.

Actually, Albini spent the entire concert jerking his body back and forth like schizophrenic people.

Come on schizophrenic people, enough with the Steve Albini impressions.

I'm lookin' at YOU, John Forbes Nash!!! "Genetically botched black boneheads" is no way to address the Nobel Foundation.

On a related note, you know that Eagles song "I Can't Tell You Why"? It'd be awesome if it would stop running through my head as "I've Got Real Nice Thighs."

Reader Comments

billy.barron@tx.rr.com
Sarah Palin makes me want to bash my head against the wall until I'm dead. I worked with the male version of her for several years. Virtually everybody at work would just say stuff to get him to react because it was so funny. He was scared to take a business trip to California because of the liberals out there. Maybe he changed after he got his house destroyed by Katrina, then moved right in the path of Rita and saw what Bush did for him. I haven't talked to him since then but I don't know. But would I ever want this guy in charge of anything? Never. Note: I actually got along with him and didn't hate him.

Let's say I was a Christian fundamentalist. Do I want Sarah Palin? She got pregnant out of wedlock and so did her daughter. She says she is pro-life but then she endangered her unborn child by flying back to Alaska when she should have stayed in Texas to give birth. The evidence is leaning towards that she is unethical. Does not seem to understand the religion in my book.

Besides if her and her husband want to attend, record messages for and be members of a party that wants Alaska to leave the Union, how can any American in their right mind vote for her?

And a month ago, she didn't even know what a VP did. Duh, everybody knows: you chair the Senate, attend funerals and shoot people on hunting trips.

Off of her, I hate the Flip Flopping complaint. It's like you can't change your mind on anything when you get more info. We see what good that does (Bush). I mean earlier this year I was lukewarm on B-52s Funplex as you can see on that page. At some point after that, I decided it is the best album of 2008 so far.

escepticojr@hotmail.com
Apparently Albini likes the vocals that way. I saw them live in March this year and the vocals were the only flaw in the whole concert. They even played "Steady as she goes" with the dumb part at the beginning played exactly like it's on the record.

And about Sarah Pallin, she's freaking hot, I'd do her, bla bla bla... and I know that many dickheads in your country are gonna vote thinking if they vote republican this year they're gonna get some of that right wing lunatic ass. Republicans are indeed crazy, but coming up with a smoking hot lady as VP? That's good politics, I can tell you that.

ddickso2@uccs.edu
You knew this was coming.

Republicans are always more energized than Democrats by default. A solid majority of them believe that if we do not follow their policies, more people will literally go to hell when they die. Democrats merely believe that if we do not follow their policies, more people will experience a hell on EARTH. (A belief amply borne out by the last eight years, but I digress.)

The only reason Republicans weren't surging before is because John McCain did not signal that he shared that viewpoint. By picking Sarah, he did. Also, Sarah siphoned off both Democrats and independents who want elected officials to be "one of them." Of course, she isn't talking about her actual policy plans, which is quite the smart move.

The plan for Republicans to win it this way is as follows: 1.) Sustain the Palin swoon uninterrupted for the next two months, and 2.) make sure Barack fails to drink coffee before the debates.

However, McCain has just handed Obama two gifts on a silver platter: a.) The stupidass sickass horribleass ad that implies Obama's a pervert for voting to protect kids from predators, and 2.) Their phony, fake, lying "outrage" over the lipstick comment. Americans are well sick of Retard Politics 101, and McCain, for all his "maverick"-ness, is proving he's the Greatest Retard Master Ever Since Herbert Hoover Himself. If the Dems don't eviscerate him for that again and again and again and again all the way to election day and highlight how much he's disgraced himself and his office, they deserve to lose.

And while they're at it, they need to chastise the media for focusing on churches and private lives. NOBODY CARES. NOBODY. FUCKING. CARES. YOU. PRICKS. JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK WE DO DOES NOT MAKE IT SO IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM YOU PRICKS.

Anyone who wants to call me a Marxist, terrorist sympathizer, baby killer, or homosexual for spouting common sense, come on down to Alpine Village, UCCS, Crestone, Room 106. I'll be at home.

hornsandtails@gmail.com
Mark,
quit being ignorant.
sincerely,
yours truly.

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Billiardspielerlied 7" - Uberschall 1995
Rating = 3

Steve Albini stage patter: "I'd like to take this moment to ask those of you who've been singing along to please stop."

This single includes a live version of "Billiard Player Song" recorded on July 2nd, 1995 in Chicago, Illinois, as well as a minute-long compilation of comments about a lost coat made during the band's February 16th, 1995 performance in Amsterdam, Holland. Side A features the worst recording quality you are ever going to hear on a Shellac record (the bass completely drowns out the guitar and vocals!) and Side B is pointless and uninteresting. I've simply never been so angry at a release.

It's like I was saying to LiLo the other day, "What's up with Brangelina?" See, LiLo's been getting pretty political lately (as she recently opined on her MySpace page, "I am concerned with the fact that Sarah Palin brought the attention to her daughter's pregnancy, rather than all world issues and what she believes she could possibly do to change them-if elected."), so I thought maybe she might know what's up with Brangelina. (Or at very least, she could ask SanRo during one of their passionate Lilith sessions.) Unfortunately, she's so concerned with TomKat's bump these days that not even the mention of J-Lo's twins can shake her from her reverie! And don't even get me STARTED about poor Amy Wino....

Best,
I Give A Shit
USA

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The Futurist - Unreleased
Rating = 4

If nothing else, my dinner with Britney Spears taught me one thing -- there's nothing "sanitary" about a sanitary napkin!

Bill says to his buddy, "I can't take it anymore. My wife's been using a needle to poke holes in all my condoms." His buddy says, "Aww, that just means she wants a baby," and Bill answers, "But she does it while I'm WEARING them!"

Joe's wife says to him, "Joe, I think I'm gonna switch over to tampons." Joe answers, "With the size of your twat, you'd be better off with a rolled-up beach towel!"

Yes, it can be fun to laugh at nature's foibles, but sometimes we all need to take a few bennies, pour a long draught of virgin rum, and review an officially unreleased Shellac record. And that time is currently. I don't know why The Futurist was recorded; you can look that up on your fancy computer. But I do know that they eventually decided not to release it, except in a very limited edition to 779 of their friends (all of whose names are listed on the front cover). If you're not listed, don't start in with the tears and flapdoodle because it's not very good. Not very good at all. Nope. Not at all. Not much at all.

You see, The Futurist is an experimental 27-minute EP that pairs disparate patches of instrumental Shellac skrankle-crank rock music with Eno-style soundscaping, complete with static keyboard tones, radio noise, electronic blurps and beeps, TV ambiance, buzzy airplaney noises, backwards "vip!" sounds and wheezy whoozers. A couple of the traditional rock pieces are quite enjoyable indeed -- particularly the uptempo crunchy-crackler that evolves from the intro "SMASH! SMASH! SMASH!" irritation of the untitled "Second Track," and the ZZ Top chuggly-chuggle/non-picked swoopy bass hook of the untitled "Third Song On Here." However, it's obvious that they devoted more energy to the idea of being avant-garde than they did actually putting musical compositions together. Nowhereplace is this more evident than the 12-minute Snore Party that is the untitled "Fifth And Final Piece On The Disc." A promising intro of catchy drums, off-kilter bass and up-down tiptoe guitar played at a tempo you wouldn't think Albini capable of playing soon deteriorates into buzzing racket and a duller, more repetitive bass line that never ends. Drags on and on and on and dna? no! dna? no! dna? no, sgard!

I hope you enjoyed my palindrome! That's the first one I've ever made up, so you can imagine my swelling pride. Can't you? Can't you almost see my swelling pride, sliding deeper and deeper inside you?

No, not "gay" pride! What are you, "gay"? And is your name "Yag"? If so, check this out: "Yag, I'm not ton mi gay!" See? I did it again! I'm like a regular Joan Baez at this! But if we must talk about the Shellac album, let me just say one thing: some people were born to make avant-garde music. We call them "lacking musical talent." Others are made to play loud rock music. Shellac at this point in time hadn't learned the difference between the two, and the proof is in the pudding.

Oh dude, if you're enrolled in a trigonometry class, you TOTALLY have to do this joke for me: Rip one of the completed proofs off of your homework sheet and slide it into a tupperware container full of chocolate pudding. Then, when your teacher asks you where your proof is, smile a big silly grin and answer, "Up your ass, faggot!"

Add your thoughts?


Terraform - Touch And Go 1997
Rating = 7

Hey, Ol' Prind here. I'm really busy today and don't have time to write a new review, so I'm just going to reprint a review of this Shellac album that I wrote in 1939. Here:

Well, grab me a baby and an all the way, these guys are keen! Steve Albini may be more of a pill than a pip, but his skin tickler is POUNDING away, and you'd have to be an ickie to hear a track like "Disgrace" and not shout "Murder!" Believe me, Shellac isn't one of those bands that togs their recordings to the bricks like a bunch of whacky twits (a trip for biscuits at any rate!). They're simply aces. And I mean NOBBY! You can bet a lot of scrubs were behind the grind when this came out - it must have blown their wigs!

It would be a brodie to give Albini all the credit, though. Sure he's the butter and egg man, but the alligators would be shouting, "Abyssinia!" if not for his torpedoes Bobby and Todd-o. Bobby may not be cute as a bug's ear, but hey he ain't no canary! Wait til you hear the distorted thud of his dog house and you'll see why they keep him around. And sure, Todd has a reputation as an evil egg, but he ain't no joe, Jack. Slamming his plates, he -- hey! I just noticed that when this waiter deep throats me all the way, he looks like he has a little Hitler mustache!

Hey, Ol' Prind here. On second thought, maybe I should go ahead and write a new review.

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Duh-ditit-doo. Duh-ditit-doo. Duh-ditit-doo. Duh-ditit-doo. Duh-ditit-doo. Duh-ditit-doo.

Congratulations! You've just sat through the first song on this album! Indeed, what better way to turn off even your most loyal fans than by devoting a full THIRD of your new CD to a two-note bass line played over and over and over again for 12 minutes and 15 seconds? I'll tell you how! Follow it up with a bunch of by-the-numbers bass lines and half-written guitar riffs, with no attention at all paid to the arrangements! And there you have it -- the worst album ever!

Oh okay, hyperbolizing is in my genes (but not my jeans - that's 18 pounds of sheer COCK!). Surely I wouldn't give a grade of 7 to a bad album. And this isn't a bad album - it's just bad by Steve Albini standards. Because it sounds like he only put real solid effort into three or four songs. The others, though not bad (even the 12-minute song isn't BAD -- in fact it's quite hypnotic for a while, as well as intellectually stimulating to hear how the drummer captures the bass line in various ways throughout the song - first it sounds like a slow waltz, then an awkward herky-jerk, then an uptempo 4/4 rocker, etc - it's just too LONG!), just seem to lack that "Oomph! Wow!" ultra-intelligent vibe that permeated through their previous work.

You see -- and yes, I realize that I own every Bachman-Turner Overdrive album -- but many of these riffs are just not very interesting or creative. To name just all of them, "Mouthpiece" dicks around with three basic bass notes and a single guitar chord with one finger moving up and down (something Steve does in quite a few songs actually - just staying on one chord and creating a 'riff' by moving one of his fingers up and and down), "Canada" lopes along on a dull basic midtempo chord sequence and so-dumb-they're-stupid lyrics ("A country so blue/that backwards it's 'Adanac'"), "House Full Of Garbage" could have been a great song with its sick, twisted bass line and Steve's eerie tremelo bar squiggly string noises - but it doesn't change for SEVEN (LOUSY ROTTEN DIRTY FILTHY STINKING) MINUTES!, and "Copper" sounds like a real punk ass-kicker til you notice they stole the music from that shitty old "Nothing Can Change The Shape Of Things To Come" hippy song.

Of note, however is that Steve is shouting in a raspy insane growl from way in the back of the room - it sounds great and completely unlike his previous work. In tracks like "This Is A Picture" and "Mouthpiece," he seriously sounds like he's out of his mind! (as opposed to the model of calm stability that we've always associated with him) Also, three of the songs will floor you to the baseboard. Check out these lyrics from "This Is A Picture": "You know where they keep angels?/Heaven, that's where/I can't wait to die/I can find me some/It's where I'll find my wife/When I'm through with my present one." Now check out the music! Strange, pretty and fast in that order, am I right? Now try "Disgrace" - yes, the intro blows but wait til you hear the odd twiggly wiggly guitar sound. Rollicking! How did he do that? It sounds like his guitar was born mentally retarded! And "Rush Job" - that sure don't sound like no "rush job"! In fact, it sounds like POLVO with that crazy bendy guitar and quirky pop hook! And don't tell me Bob Weston has never heard Polvo - he recorded the pricks, produced the bastards and befriended the piles of shit, fucker!

Also, while we're on the lyric tip, "Copper" is a terrifically entertaining double entendre tying Steve's lifelong hatred of the police to metallurgy: "Copper, let us take you/To a furnace where we'll break you/The fire so big and pretty you could cry/As you buckle you could ask me/'What was wrong with me before/Did I need the silver to be suitable?'" Oh! Oh, that Steve Albini!

I feel about Terra(ble record)form the same emotions that I apply to The Jesus Lizard's Blue. I honestly DO enjoy both records, but knowing how smart both of these bands are, it's hard to fathom what interband dynamics might have led to the recording and release of musical product so clearly patterned upon yet inferior to their previous output. I mean, with this one, if you manage to make it through the first song, the next seven fly by in like three minutes! And you're all sittin' there going, "The fuck? It's OVER!?" Is all what you're doing. And I know, because in my mind, I'm there. Watching you.

Nervous, yet?

You should be. Because I'm GOD.

Sorry, the "O" key got stuck for a second - I'm GOOD.

Good at what, you wonder? Well, let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of the Rolling Stones?

You're looking at him.

Reader Comments

ikillpetsandsmallchildren@yahoo.com
I enjoy the fact that if you take songs from the three Shellac records you can make one cohesive record for each of your favourite Shellacís.

The Angry Shellac. The Arty Shellac. The Funny Shellac. The Sad, Beautiful Shellac. The Historical Lecture Series from Shellac, Shellac.

I also enjoy the fact that you donít have to listen to Shellac.

opeth1213@yahoo.com
Gotta admire your persistence at writing the dit-do do do do's... this is probably Shellac's weakest, although Action Park and 1000 Hurts are near-masterpieces. This album is a little too short and EP-like for me (7 songs in 20 something mins after the first track) and Steve seems a little complacent here. Maybe this was the first album he did after Huey Lewis made him believe in love. Fortunately Geoff Tate would show him his mistake in time for Prayer to God... still This Is A Picture and House Full of Garbage are real good, and there's nothing wrong with the other songs, just not great. A 7 definitely.

Action Park - 9
Terraform - 7
1000 Hurts - 9

richast2@yahoo.com
I saw Shellac play in Chicago a couple years ago, and before their last song Steve said "This is our last song. You can leave if you want." Then they played the first song from Terraform, and suddenly it made sense. Albini has always had a weird sense of humor, and that song really encapsulates it.

Incidentally, if you can track it down, there was some obscure compilation CD called "Ground Rule Double" that I think had Braid and some other bands on it, and it featured an earlier recording of "Copper" that completely blows the album version away. Track it down--I highly recommend it.

Tom Osman
Hi Mark,

You forgot the Duh-ditdoo Duh-ditdoo Dit-doo Dit-doo Duh-dit after Duh-ditit-doo no. 290 (and the one at the end). You also added an extra 520(!) Duh-ditit-doos. Where did you get those from?! It's sloppy work Mark and it kind of ruined my karaoke experience. Not having a go. Just thought I should bring it to your attention.

Sincerely,

Tom.

Add your thoughts?

* 1000 Hurts - Touch And Go 2000 *
Rating = 10

Fucking kill him.
Fucking kill him.
Kill him already, kill him.
Fucking kill him, fucking kill him,
Kill him already, kill him,
Just fucking kill him!
Fucking kill him! Fucking kill him!
Kill him already! Kill him!
AH FUCKING KILL HIM! FUCKING KILL HIM!
KILL HIM ALREADY! KILL HIM!
KILL HIM ALREADY!!
KILL HIM ALREADY!!
KILL HIM ALREADY!!
KILL HIM!
Amen.

Congratulations! You have just experienced the first reason why this CD is 400 times better than the one before it. Oh sure, it may just seem like a load of obscenity to the naked eye, but once you put some clothes on your eye, you'll see that it's actually the second half of a desperate man's plea for holy vengeance against the man who stole his wife away. It's also only the first of many fascinating and witty (violent) lyrical concepts to be found on this finest of all Shellac-ac-ac-ac-ac releases.

Question A: Did Shellac-ac-ac-ac-ac's wives/girlfriends all leave them for other men between the last album and this one? Because I'll be good, goddamned and well-forked but not dead if "Prayer From God," "Canaveral" and "Shoe Song" don't all involve this very scenario (the first two with violence; the third with lamentation). Plus the album is called 1000 Hurts. That's a lot of hurts! And how else can a man acquire so many hurts without the betrayal of a former loved one, the whore?

Question B: This is a great album! By far the most energetic and "in your face" of the band's 600 releases, it features not a single bum riff or stereotypical arrangement. Todd Trainer has come up with another baker's nine of off-the-wall rhythms, the instrumental interplay is the tops with tight changes, unexpected twists and sympathetic playing to be found all throughout the disc, and most importantly, you can tell that they put a lot more effort into their songwriting and arrangements than last time. Plus there's more vocal variety bandmember-wise, and when Steve sings he gets really close to the mic so you can feel like he's ranting right there in the room with you. Who wouldn't desire that? Can you imagine the coolness of Steve "I've got a headache like a pillow" Albini ranting right there in the room with you? I mean, wow! We're talking about Steve "Make a noise like an animal" Albini here! Maybe this doesn't mean much to you (the layman), but to me, the thought of Steve "I would like to wrap your hair around your neck like a noose" Albini ranting directly at me is akin to having Paul "Somebody's knocking on the door, somebody's ringing the bell, do me a favor, open the door, let 'em in" McCartney sweet talking his cutesy banter directly to me, which is sadly an impossibility since he was murdered outside his NYC apartment building in 1980. Poor Linda! At least she can visit Blueberry Fields forever.

Before we discuss the album in minute detail, let's enjoy some lyrics together since I told you how good they are. "Squirrel Song" opens to the hilarious scene of Albini snidely remarking, "This is a sad fuckin' song. We'll be lucky if I don't bust out crying." Then it does some other stuff and whatever, but then it ends with this -- I mean, this is classic! Classic COKE, that is! "Because they were squirrels!/Real squirrels!/And there were thousands!/This isn't some kind of metaphor/Goddamn, this is real!" You see what he does there? He sucks you into a story, and then suddenly jerks you back out with some hilarious out-of-place first-person comment. He does the same thing in the next track, "Mama Gina." Check out how he unnecessarily inserts his own personal commentary into a heartfelt story of familial relations and loss: "Oh, my mama Gina/Had a sister, Angelina/And if there is a heaven/Though I think that there's no heaven/She's probably dancing with you." SEE?!?? He's such a funny asshole! And he's Steve "She ripped through me like a pavement saw" Albini!

What's that? Is somebody talking about Steve "He had what they call a passing complexion" Albini?

Why yes, officer! I indeed WAS talking about Steve "Seth is just a racist dog" Albini!

Swell. Okay, you kids continue talking about Steve "You see, I'm a hunter-gatherer, I kill what I eat" Albini, and I'll enjoy this "doughnut" (for policemen often eat doughnuts, it's said).

But enough about the dadblasted lyrics. Let's talk music. Music that never follows an expected pattern. Music that takes stylistic turns out of nowhere while still retaining that stripped-down Shellac vibe. "Mama Gina," for example, starts with a lot of very dark note combinations, then a one-note thud bass. Then the drums stop and it's just an eerie little bass thing and Steve talking. Then two very quiet guitar notes and nearly inaudible cymbal. So you turn the volume way up and the song suddenly gets ridiculously loud and overdistorted for the final minute. And that's just one example of the strange arrangements (or should I say "arrSTRANGEments"???!!!??) (no, I shouldn't) cluttered all around the land in the vicinity of this CD. How about "QRJ"? That's an instrumental with a really loud noisy bass thrashing noise, radio waves, three dark guitar notes, and then rockin' waltz-beat bass! "Ghosts"? Come on now - that starts with a melodic descending bass hook, then pounding heavy up-down notes. Then ugly scraping guitar line drunken Cows blooze sickness. It gets slower, then harder. Slower! Harder! I can't think of anything else in life that gets slower, then harder.

No wait! A gigantic man made out of tar would get slower, then harder! I take back everything I said previously.

And the album continues in this unpredictable vein! First they threaten to send a man to space and blow him up into fertilizer. Then they play a queasy drum/bass chord duet with no set tempo and attempt to create a new number order (as opposed to the traditional 1,2,3). Finally, after 5 hours of this nonsense, they combine Jesus Lizard jazz licks with ZZ Top Texas funk and Steve picks a fight with a guy because he's mad at his watch. Mad at his own WATCH!

I'm not sure how familiar you people are with "normal albums," but believe me, none of these things happen on them. Every single track on here is unique, catchy, rockin', well performed, intellectually pleasing, and verbally entertaining (although the instrumental "QRJ" is a bit less verbally entertaining than some of the others). And best of all, they sound really really INTO it. Where Action Park sounded a bit cold and distant, and Terraform seemed kinda half-assed and lazy, 1000 Hurts sounds like three men of above-average intelligence putting their heads together to come up with etc.

That's okay, right? To just type "etc." instead of finishing the sentence? I got bored halfway through it. Man, sentences are LONG!

Reader Comments

mradamcooley@hotmail.com
I'd just to say that I mostly agree with your Shellac reviews (and I've waited a LONG time for them). But At Action Park is their best CD and one of the best of all time in my opinion. 1000 Hurts has too much filler (Mama Gina?). Thanks!

Newone88859@aol.com
My very first trip to the Athens own Wuxtry. I picked up this album because it had a neat box and i remember Guy Piccioto said he liked them. I was fairly disapointed at first, because as you said, there is no catharsis anywhere in Shellac's music. But it slowly grew on me, and i enjoy it quite a bit, sometimes. Actually i listen to it like once every six months, but when i do, i like it.

aram49@dsl.pipex.com (Jamie Summers)
Hey Mark,
liked the shellac reviews, have to say I agree 1000 Hurts is probably the best of their records, it was also the first one I got after hearing John Peel play Prayer To God one night many years ago. anyway one of the reasons it's so great is that if you buy it on vinyl, not only do you get some nice big artwork in a box, some stickers and a very big slab of vinyl, but they throw in a free copy on cd, so in fact there's no point in buying the cd version at all. gotta love that albini.

Ianandpervinrowe@aol.com (Mark Rowe)
Well, I disagree with most of your opinions here (Terraform is my favourite of Shellac's records, the opening track my favourite of the album), but I have to say that you are probably a genius. Bastard. Funny, funny bastard.

radfox@gmail.com
some of the songs on here could pass as new-school fugazi material (this is a good thing)

another thing about the vinyl addition... aside from the fact that albini added the cd inside the vinyl along with a free sticker nobody will ever use, the vinyl version is also sold for a dollar less, giving people who don't prententiously buy vinyl exclusively a reason to buy this on vinyl. albini you old card!

johnnyalpha01@yahoo.co.uk (Dan)
I think you've got it the wrong way around over Shellac. 1000 Hurts meanders a fair bit, and between the end of 'Squirrel Song' and the start of 'Canaveral'', I'm waiting for some focus - whereas At Action Park is one disciplined, botox-tight piece of snoozophone material fit for a local disco. Track versus track! A deathmatch!

My Black Ass vs Prayer To God - damn. They know how to lead records off. Still, early touchdown for AAP! 7-0
Pull The Cup vs Squirrel Song - 1000 Hurts levels the scores in style! 7-7
The Admiral vs Mama Gina - love both songs, but the robotic zap of The Admiral goes over the dead girl in the end. 14-7
Crow vs QRJ - zero contest! 21-7
Song of the Minerals vs Ghosts - first Shellac song I heard versus a song that goes nowhere and stays there. Hmm. Difficult. 28-7
A Minute vs Song Against Itself - now Hurts getting embarrassed. 34-7 - failed two-point conversion attempt!
The Idea of Noth vs Canaveral - second half comeback for The Hurtz? 34-14
The Dog & Pony Show vs New Number Order - safety for The Dog & Pony, not quite conquering its rival in the 8 spot. 36-14
Boche's Dick vs Shoe Song - Damn. Hard choice. I guess the shoes win it. 36-21
Il Porno Star vs Watch Song - Love Watch Song. Porno Star kinda blows a little. 36-28

Still, both beat Terraform.

contriver@gmail.com
re: shellac, they are still together. caught them friday in austin, excellent show, and Bob Weston even claimed they were releasing a new album later this year.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com
Shellac is still in existence; their fourth album, Excellent Italian Greyhound, is coming out on June 5, 2007.

Apparently there is going to be a track called "Kittypants" on it. I'm actually not joking.

Add your thoughts?


Excellent Italian Greyhound - Touch And Go 2007
Rating = 4

UPDATE: THIS IS JUST A BUNCH OF HALF-WRITTEN DOGSHIT! HOW THE FUCK DID I GIVE THIS AN 8!? DID I JUST ASSUME IT WAS REALLY GOOD BECAUSE STEVE ALBINI DID IT? THIS ALBUM BLOWS! HERE'S MY ORIGINAL REVIEW, WRITTEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF BAD JUDGEMENT.

This album could have been Steve Albini tying his shoe for 45 minutes and I still would've given it an 8 for the adorable doggy pictures inside. I love doggies so much. My wife viewed the photos and asked, "Why is the doggie sitting in a circle of fruits and vegetables?" Knowing the nature of doggies, I replied, "It's probably the only kind of food they could use that he wouldn't gobble up before they took the photo!" Yes, I know the wily ways of doggies.

The latest Shellac release is just as "un-normal-album-like" as the last one, and features a few of the strangest compositional decisions I've ever heard from a major underground rock band. Generally speaking, the Shellac sound is still the Shellac sound; however, their typically super-rigid-tight nerve-abrasion this time rests uneasily alongside some of their loosest and (seemingly) most improvisational material yet. Let's look at a few examples of this 'WTH!?' songwriting ('F' is a curse word, so I would prefer it if we could stick to 'What the heck!?' in this forum. Honestly, I'd prefer 'What in Sam Hill!?' but 'WISH!?' would just confuse the issue)

'WTH!?' creative decisions include:

- Welcoming the listener with 3 bass chords and lyrics that were clearly made up on the spot - for EIGHT AND A HALF MINUTES

- Beginning "Be Prepared" with a full 30 seconds of false starts

- Sticking an awkward minute-and-a-half drum break in the middle of the otherwise straightforward "Elephant"

- Interrupting "Genuine Lulabelle" with an a capella break -- that drags on for FOUR MINUTES!

- Bidding the listener adieu with one chord and two men screaming jibberish

With almost any other band, passages like these would represent pretentious artistry at its most infuriating, but Shellac uses them as abstruse musical jokes, most likely just to break the monotony of the 'traditional hard rock arrangement'. When I listen to this record - and this doesn't go for any other Shellac record to date - I hear a band that is Sick To Fucking Death with rock records. How many soul-sucking soundalike rock albums must Albini alone have to endure each year in his job as a highly-regarded studio engineer? With a day job like that, is it any wonder he uses his hobby to create rock music that isn't predictable?

Seriously, there is no way to gauge where any of these songs are going to go until they go there. And it's not like Shellac has suddenly become a prog band; it's just that their limited tolerance for cliche demands that even the simplest hard rock song ("Steady As She Goes," for example) be put through a billion different minor twists of tempo, rhythmic emphasis and guitar technique before reaching cessation a few minutes later. And even listeners who appreciate this confrontational philosophy are not likely to agree with every example of its usage. The a capella nonsense in "Genuine Lulabelle" for example -- sure, it's strange and funny, but must it take up such a huge percentage of the song!? Ditto for the drum break in "Elephant" -- it's not even a drum solo; it's simply Todd Trainer playing the song's drumbeat for a minute and a half! Thank God there is so much strong music surrounding these sections, because 'novel ideas' are sometimes a lot more interesting to ponder than they are to listen to. Especially if it's a 'ROMANCE novel idea'! HA AHAHAH!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The music itself assimilates everything from '80s noise-rock and '70s boogie/hard rock to anxious minimalism and minor-key melancholia/Mexicalia, with one instrumental ("Kittypants") even coming across as gentle, poppy indie rock. The band's sound still consists of distorted bass, super-loud drums and Steve Albini's guitar, though the latter is less trebly and ear-slicing this time out. Albini handles lead vocals on only 4 of the 9 tracks, leaving two to the other guys, two to Instrumental, and one to Sharing Vocal Duties.

And how about those lyrics:

- "Can you hear me now?" - Steve Albini quoting ad pitchman Paul Marcarelli, whom I used to know back when he was a lowly PR guy and struggling actor. Now he's on TOP OF THE WORLD!!!! and I'm sitting here with my thumb up my job.

- "Here comes the argument" - Non-Steve-Albini guy quoting Fugazi, who apparently have about as much chance of recording another album as the Butthole Surfers do, which is almost none at all

- "She knows her way around a cock" - Steve Albini being a gentleman

- "A TATTA BATTA BATTA WHOP A CHEE CHEE SATTA A CHONK KAH KAH KAH SEE BAREDD!" - Some guy sounding a lot like David Yow, possibly on purpose

Yes, you can learn a lot from lyrics in life today. For example, here is a set of lyrics that has been going through my head nearly non-stop since I accidentally made it up several months back:

"Peas today!
Peas tomorrow!
Peas will fill
your balls with sorrow!"

I tried selling it to the Bean Board, but they told me balls went out in '60s. Maybe I'm just too old for my ideas to have any relevance to today's post-balls generation.

Say, do you ever feel depressed and out of sorts but don't know why? That's how I feel today. I went to the bathroom a few hours ago and just sat there with my head in my hands for 45 minutes. That's hardly how you want to spend your day. Curse you, Charlie Gooks!

I apologize for the offensive slur. I of course meant "Charles Gooks".

Reader Comments

RunAroundOnFire@aol.com
I don't feel like composing paragraphs, here's a list of comments:

- On this one, I actually think they sound less "ugly on purpose" than usual. There are some ugly moments but they're always balanced by moments that are more melodic than thetypical Shallacestry ("Kittypants", the stuff Bob Weston sings). Nothing here is as ugly as "QRJ" or "New Number Order" (well, maybe "Genuine Lullabelle" is).

- I like the just-drums moments because the drums on this record sound INCREDIBLE in capital letters.

- That famous movie-commercial-announcer guy contributes uncredited vocals! C'mon, that's cool... even if it is just a couple words in the middle of a totally skippable mess of a song.

soul_crusher77@hotmail.com
I'd just like to say that your "peas today, peas tomorrow..." thing is now sticking in *my* head, more so because I was reading it to the tune of Slayer's "Criminally Insane" (you know, instead of "night will come and I will follow, for my victims no tomorrow!"). Someday I'll comment on an album I have actually heard, I promise.

ego.tripping@gmail.com
So like, I read the Charles Gooks thing, and I was slightly offended. Maybe you could shorten it to Chuck Gooks. If you say it really fast it sounds like Chuggux. Which sounds like a good name for cereal...TRADEMARK PENDING TRADEMARK PENDING TRADEMARK PENDING!!!

spacebutlerxiii@hotmail.com
Deconstructionist rock at its first-I've-ever-heardest. I somehow doubt other records like this flow quite so well. And while this may not go down as The Best Goddamn Record I've Heard This Year (it's lookin' like They Might Be Giants' The Else stole that crown from !!!'s Myth Takes) but I'd most certainly and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes music from the underground. Interesting little things worth pointing out (without actually spoiling it for those who haven't heard it): during the a capella bit in "Genuine Lulabelle," the voice of a certain well-known internet cartoon character makes an appearance; they start "Spoke" off with the shortest Who cover I've heard anyone play; the non-riff played during the "verse" (read: the only part they return to in the song, even though there's only two of 'em) of "Spoke" is the best damn non-riff I've ever heard (fuck you, nu-metal!!!!!).

edm1213@msn.com
I dunno... I expected a little more from everyone's favorite producer who can really produce on this one. Good production of course, what else would you expect given Albini's producing capabilities and hard-producing production expertise. But the songs dont stick with me the way 1,000 Hurts, At Action Park and even Terraform's better moments did. Still a good time listening to these three players and maybe i just didnt give it enough of a chance. But where the other albums gave Big Black a run for its money, this is barely Rapeman. 7/10.

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