Hailing as part of math rock’s Louisviille scene which is said to have been influenced by Slint’s Spiderland, (also a T & G release), Shipping News had been quiet since their 2005 album, Flies The Fields. After spending the hiatus working on various other projects, their latest album, One Less Heartless To Fear, is comprised of live recordings from Skull Alley in Louisville and the O-Nest in Tokyo that were made last summer.
To describe One Less Heartfelt To Fear is to describe sound as historical context. There’s a primal wisdom and drive to this music and the live sandpaper texture that recalls the underground of the late 80s/mid 90s is refreshing. Listening to this album, I immediately felt a sense of nostalgia, remembering that momentary blip when FM radio provided some dissonance and broken notes, bringing the underground over. Looking back, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing as the decade began to churn out imitation-Alterna chumps, but it felt promising for a little while.
Shipping News relates rhythmic complexity with Fugazi-guitar swipes and Big Black pulverizations. “Antebellum” has this captivating and persistent undercurrent that allows the guitar work of Jason Nobel and Jeff Meuller to twist and smolder. “The Delicate” vocalizes spoken word-like as if it were a straggler from Songs About Fucking.
Immediacy, though prominent, doesn’t always wear itself so obvious, the levels of solid bass work via Todd Cook beautifully complicating “This Is Not An Exit” and intensifying “Bad Eve.” Guitars whale and churn, desperate and true. Drummer, Kyle Crabtree, follows Cook’s arrhythmic poise with successive tom beats or continual hi-hat, keeping minimalism to a minimum. Crabtree’s attack most effectively powers “7s,” a quasi-march preceding each snare beat.
Seven of the album’s songs are new, “(Morays Or) Demon” and “Axons and Dendrites” from Flies The Fields. Though thickening the album a bit like filler, the fact that One Less Heartless To Fear is a live album sort of negates the laziness typically associated with a move like that. The full set, though compiled, emits a range of music both carefully arranged and fluidly alienating, finishing off full-throttle with “Do You Remember The Avenues?,” ending the album with a perfect and frustrating cliffhanger that only propagates a desire for more.
Genre: Indie Rock / Occult
Label: Karate Body/Noise Pollution
Site: Related Link
Similar: Slint, Fugazi, Big Black, The Jesus Lizard
- Antebellum — 3:07
- This Is Not An Exit — 4:43
- (Morays Or) Demon — 4:19
- 7s — 2:57
- The Delicate — 3:30
- Axons and Dendrites — 5:23
- Half A House — 4:35
- Bad Eve — 3:49
- Do You Remember The Avenues? — 3:01