#tbt Shellac / At Action Park (1994)
Label: Touch and Go
Coming hot off the heels of what was arguably Steve Albini’s most iconic moment in popular culture (producing Nirvana’s In Utero), ‘At Action Park’ was (and still is) a step outside of the post-punk formula from which it was born. After recruiting prolific producer Bob Weston (Volcano Suns and later Mission of Burma) and primal drummer Todd Trainer (Brick Layer Cake, Breaking Circus, Rifle Sport), the three put together an album with a much more metallic sound and sharper context than their post punk influences. If at any moment you find yourself thinking while listening to this record “When are they going to get to the point?”, then clearly you have missed the point all together. Under the layers of crashing drums, driving bass, and metallic guitar shavings, there is strong melody and emotional content underpinning the whole album. Shellac brings the heavy in a very direct fashion, but not necessarily spoon feeding it to you like so many metal and punk acts. These guys make you work for it, and unless you have the attention span of a millenial, you stand a chance of appreciating the beauty of this record. At times the songwriting is very catchy, and I have often caught myself singing the lyrics. The songs that do build up, build up nicely, and are worth the pay-off. They usually peak in intensity about two thirds of the way through, but begin their sonic assault immediately. Shellac have definitely put out great albums since ‘At Action Park’, but if you ask me, this is their defining moment. Don’t be the last kid on your block to know about this record, and check out the whole thing below. This year marks the 20th anniversary, and they are playing a show July 7th at Lincoln Hall with Bear Claw. You can find tickets HERE. And if you like what you hear, I recommend picking it up on vinyl, the medium it was recorded for and the way it was meant to be heard.