This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

"This microphone turns my voice into electricity!" - Shellac

So a goodnight call to Sammy last night turned into a 90-minute laff fest where we mostly just quoted Arrested Development at each other. As always, I can never say goodbye to her, because right when I get around to trying to say "shut up you dyke so I can go to bed," she busts out with something so funny that I laugh myself back awake. In this particular instance, she was recounting the time she used a megaphone to sing "Last Caress" in a public place, an act she referred to as "detrimental to humanity." For some reason, this made me laugh so hard that I stopped breathing momentarily.

I'm guessing as this point you're wondering where the hell I'm going with this mediocre anecdote. "Yeah Matt," you're probably saying, "we know Sammy is an obnoxious cooze who annoys everyone in a quarter-mile radius. We already know this. So the fuck what?"

I just like the idea of people using sound in malevolent ways. I'd much rather listen to a record that made my ears hurt than one that was bland and deliberately inoffensive - I call it the Big Stick vs. Jesse McCartney theory. While too much noise rock makes me hate people, sometimes it's just what the doctor ordered. Shellac is definitely one of those bands that tests the listeners' stamina, both live and on record. Just when you think you're about to lift the needle up or wander over to the bar to get another Yuengling, they explode with something amazing that just blows you away. Todd Trainor and Bob Weston are an incredible rhythm section, and Steve Albini never fails to prove he's one of the ten best guitarists working today. No one else have ever sounded like him - not when he was in Big Black, not when he was in Rapeman, and not now that he's in Shellac. His guitar sound is as unique and immediately identifiable as his sardonic, deadpan vocals.

I'll be honest with you. Shellac isn't for everyone. I'm not trying to be an elitist snob, but I feel the need to warn people that this might not be your cup of tea. It's noisy, repetetive, confrontational, and will test your endurance. I hear brilliance in this. Some people hear squalls of white noise and nothing else. There's nothing catchy or very melodic about it. If you hear what I hear in it, I highly advise you to run out and obtain copies of all three Shellac albums, At Action Park, Terraform, and especially 1000 Hurts. As a treat for people who already own all three albums, I included two unreleased songs the group recorded during a Peel session, including the absolutely astounding "The End of Radio." It's what they opened with when I saw them last Thursday, and the howling pleas of the last man on Earth making the last radio broadcast was goosebump-worthy. ("This one goes out to a very special girl. But there is no special girl!") If you can take it in all of it's eight-minute, thirty second glory, it's a rewarding listen.

And if you can, go see them live. The songs take on a new life that many of the records only hint at, and their deliberate use of false stops to diffuse applause is amusing to say the least. Besides, the lively question-and-answer period the band hosts in lieu of asking for requests is worth the price of admission, and being able to see Steve Albini play live (and scream into his pickups to create a horrible, distorted shrieking noise in a Bizzaro parody of Peter Frampton) is a pleasure on level with being able to see Janet Weiss play drums or Don Braden to play sax. To steal Flipper's tagline, "melts in your brain, not in your hands."

Oh, and I'm going to start incorporating more photographs into these entries. No particular reason why. I do what I wan'!


Blogger AmyMeacham said...

Woah that's some great shit! There's also a great YouTube video of "Steady As She Goes." I was worried about seeing anything tonight after hearing that, but fortunately the original Atlanta band VietNam played here tonight as a last minute addition and they killed.
I gotta see Shellac when they come back to town.

3:41 AM

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