To All Trains – A Review

Prior to last week, I had never heard of Shellac.

I know Steve Albini of course. Definite winner of player hater of the year, the physical embodiment of when keepin it real goes wrong, the OG edgelord, and certified asshole.

Also, he is a fucking genius musician and producer…one of the foundational elements of the 90s indie sound.

I knew of only one of his bands. The infamous Big Black, primarily because Songs About Fucking shows up on a bunch of top post-punk or indie or some shit lists. So that was the album I heard…and thats it.

And that was years ago. I cant remember how I felt about it back then because I never bothered digging…I guess that was one of the big things about Steve. He appreciated people who were willing to go the extra mile to find great shit. Put in the work as the kids say.

Well cut to last friday. I am currently going through a fucking slog of terrible shit (more on that on a future post). And a motherfucker hipped me to the fact that prior to his untimely death, he had finally given up the ghost on having none of his shit on streaming. I guess they were so confident in the new material that they wanted people to hear it.

So, all of Big Black and Shellac’s albums went up…including, Shellac’s now final album.

I was hooked immediately.

This album entered my life right when it needed to. I blasted it three times that night fuckin drunk, and twice the next morning.

This thing is a masterpiece of brooding minimalist indie fuckin ass kicking.

To All Trains is a great example of how an album can be heavy as shit without being pure metal. How it can be dark without going full goth. We are in a special zone occupied by very few.

The albums contents is classic Steve Albini. The uncompromising asshole. The vision remains as clear in his 60s as it did in his 20s. Fuck you, you fucked up. Shouldn’t have cleaned up. Should have stayed in the grime and the filth. Cause at least that’s honest.

And I fucking love it. There are totally points on here to shout the lyrics. “IM THROUGH WITH MUSIC FROM DUDES” is most definitely one of them.

This album also goes to prove that you don’t need to go fully layered polyrhythm or multi-instrumental to make something fantastic. If you know where you want to go with it, you can keep it simple. Nothing on this album is like “hard” in the virtuosic sense, but what makes it incredible is how well the composition blends.

Bands…hell most artists cant do this. They cant find that interesting hook. That melody that will carry the song. Fuckin pazzuzu can’t. This band has all that in spades.

Perfect fucking album craft. Tight as fuck 28 min. All killer, no filler. Dont need fuckin 3 hours worth of horseshit. Just make 10 songs of ass kickers. This is how you fucking do it.

I cant imagine a better note to end on. Like people are already throwing Blackstar discourse on this thing, and I don’t think it deserves that.

It was clearly meant to be a latter-day Shellac album…and that is technically what it is. I think its the quality of the songs that take you there.

Oh and the album closer. Which, I still need to consume all the rest of albini’s work, but it may be my personal favorite thing he has ever done.

4/4 – This is the album of the year, and there is no way anyone beats it. This is some fuckin amazing shit. Blast it loud.

RIP King Asshole. May you be hitting up that big poker table down below and just fucking cleaning everyone dry.

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