Associated Entries: Big Black, Mission Of Burma, Rapeman
Originally Published On: 04-24-2009
Although not as mean/noisy or controversial as his previous projects, Shellac is still undeniably Albini-esque, with their records being full of roaring guitars and off-kilter song subjects and much like Big Black, the band refused to be manipulated by music biz.
After the dissolution of Big Black and Rapeman, Albini decided to concentrate on production duties, which brought him a lot of recognition as he worked with countless bands/performers, including Pixies, Breeders, Tar, Wedding Present, Poster Children, Nirvana and Helmet, among others.
Shellac formed in 1992, when Albini invited Bob Weston (Sorry, Volcano Suns) to move to Chicago and work as engineer at Albini’s studio. The line-up also included drummer Todd Trainer from Rifle Sport / Brick Layer Cake.
Band started out by recording two singles in 1993 (both on Touch & Go, label run by Albini’s friend / former Necros bassist Corey Rusk) – “The Rude Gesture (A Pictorial History)” and “Uranus”. “The Rude Gesture” was described by All Music Guide website as a collection of “three mid-tempo songs” employing plenty of “economic abrasion”. “Uranus” (a.k.a. Shellac record no.2) was described by AMG as “the band’s brightest moment, featuring two sides of the band’s most powerful, dynamic, furious, and in-the-pocket nastiness”.
The following year saw the release of their first LP – At Action Park (preceded by the band’s third single – “The Bird Is The Most Popular Finger”). According to AMG, this was the record that ” proved that the misanthropic noisemaker responsible for Atomizer and Songs About Fucking was still very much present.” as the songs on the record “revealed Albini was still obsessed with sex, violence, and anti-social behavior”. Yet, AMG also pointed out that ” At Action Park reveal a band more musically intelligent and imaginative than Big Black, and it hits a bit harder than the 7″ers that preceded it.”
Their next record – 1997 “The Futurist” – came as a bit of shock/surprise to a lot of fans. The record was supposed to come out on Touch & Go, but quickly disappeared from their release schedule, as the band deemed it a mediocre release and gave it away to friends as a gift. Instead of regular songs, the record contained 10 “movements”, all full of guitar / bass / drum interplay and all kinds of noises, twists and turns. AMG deemed the record to be “a second-rate Shellac”, but also concluded that “the second rate Shellac is just fine”.
Their proper full-length arrived in 1998 with “Terraform” (recorded at Beatles Abbey Road Studios), yet AMG concluded that the album wasn’t worth the wait as it sounded too much like their debut. Nude As The News website pronounced that the record is a perfect demonstration of why Shellac will never go gold or platinum, and why it doesn’t seem to bother them a bit.
New millenium saw the release of Shellac’s next full-length “1000 Hurts”, which AMG, yet again, pronounced to be very similar to their previous records and bearing little to no development. Yet, according to AMG, Shellac typically sound like no one but themselves with “1000 Hurts”, featuring raw production, lack of overdubs and weird time signatures.
The band took a long 7-year break before releasing their new album – “Excellent Italian Greyhound” – to almost universal praise. Pitchfork gave it 7 stars out of 10 and concluded that “EIG, like 1000 Hurts before it, proves you can still provoke listeners without being uniformly dour.”
Robert Weston (Mission Of Burma, Volcano Suns)
Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)
Todd Trainer (Breaking Circus, Brick Layer Cake, Rifle Sport)
The Rude Gesture (A Pictorial History) 7″ (Touch & Go, 1993)
Uranus 7″ (Touch & Go, 1993)
At Action Park CD / LP (Touch & Go, 1994)
Live In Tokyo CD (Nux Organization, 1994)
The Bird Is The Most Popular Finger 7″ (Drag City, 1994)
Billiardspielerlied 7″ (Uberschall, 1995)
Shellac / Mule Split 7″ (Laff & Go, 1997)
Terraform CD / LP (Touch & Go, 1998)
1000 Hurts CD (Touch & Go, 2000)
Shellac / Caesar Split 7″ (Barbaraat, 2000)
Excellent Italian Greyhound CD / LP (Touch And Go, 2007)
“The Copper Song” on Ground Rule Double (Divot + Action Boy 0, 1996)
“The Killers” on The Lounge Ax & Defense Relocation Compact Disc (Touch & Go, 1996)
“Disgrace” on Untitled (Self-Released, 2002)
“Watch Song” on All Tomorrow’s Parties 2.0 (ATP, 2003)