Category: Shellac

Shellac – Terraform

ARTIST: Shellac 220px-Shellac-Terraform

TITLE: Terraform

YEAR RELEASED: 1998

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Steve Albini, Bob Weston, Todd Trainer.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: More of the same Shellac like the first album, and it does seem like a retread.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Out of the gate, Shellac graces it’s second official full length release with a 12-minute exercise in repetition. That doesn’t seem like a great way to start, and anxious listeners may itch for the fast forward button (or go and pick up the needle on the record).

After that, the tracks are shorter, and punchier. The star of the proceedings is the bass work of Bob Weston, who keeps things interesting even during the long opener. Todd Trainer’s drums are also solid, alternating between primitive driving beats and precise rolls and fills.

Believe it or not, the weakness here is Steve Albini. His guitar tone here isn’t interesting or groundbreaking, and the lyrics to the songs don’t bite. They’re also mixed low, which is kind of normal, but here it’s a detriment.

Shellac’s career is stop and start due to production and engineering duties, but there was ample time to get this right and it doesn’t seem right.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Disgrace” has a long silence in the middle, which may have caused some vinyl buyers to see if the record was still playing or if there was a problem with their unit.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE B-: I’m not 100% down on this record, it has some interesting parts. But it could have been better than this.

Shellac – At Action Park

ARTIST: Shellac         Shellac-AtActionPark

TITLE:  At Action Park

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES:  None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only fans of Steve Albini

LINEUP: Steve Albini, Robert Weston, Todd Trainer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After some great vinyl singles, Steve Albini’s newest project releases its full album to the world, and it’s as uncompromising as ever.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you know the guitar sound of Steve Albini, the first notes of “My Black Ass” unmistakably signals that this is a Steve Albini project, and he’s not changing his sound.

Neither did he change his modus operandi. Weston, the bassist, is well versed in production, and has served as Albini’s assistant at his studio. Trainer’s method of drumming is ‘pound first, ask questions later’ The lyrics and song subjects are classic Albini as well, as he continues the explorations he started in Big Black and Rapeman.

Yet, Shellac IS different than those other bands. The recording here is warm and uncompromising. Everything hits you in the head, from Albini’s guitar skeen to Trainer’s pounding. The sound and the songs make this one of the better albums in Albini’s catalog.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The credits are interesting. Albini is credited with “velocity”. Weston “mass” and Trainer “time”. Studio owners John Loder (“driver”) and Iain Burgess (“chef”) are credited, along with engineer Peter Diemel (“coffee”) and label owner Corey Rusk (“pyrotechnics”)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. We’re lucky Albini is allowing streaming. The Shellac singles aren’t around except on vinyl.

GRADE: A-: Albini’s not for everyone, and won’t compromise, but this album and approach may win Shellac more fans than usual.