Shellac
Excellent Italian Greyhound


4.5
superb

Review

by Simon STAFF
July 27th, 2019 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “This microphone turns sound into electricity”

Shellac has a dry and stoic sense of humour which burrows right into the heart of their asymmetric, sometimes baron, soundscapes – a cynical humour, sure, but humour nevertheless. It’s a characteristic that runs in tandem with Albini’s DIY ideology, and a clear-cut expression for segregating any ties to the mainstream filth that corrupts good, earnest songwriting. It’s why we have the pleasure of listening to a song like “Don’t We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are” – a 12-and-a-half-minute endurance test that largely consists of two bass notes. It’s this type of track that succinctly displays two things: a stellar handling on stripped back songwriting that becomes extremely cathartic when instrumental variety or silence-breaking enters the fray. But moreover, it’s a declaration to its targeted demographic. This is the same mantra Kurt Cobain took on board when Nirvana wrote their magnum opus, In Utero, with the very same Albini. “Don’t We Deserve a Look at You…” is written for the devoted and the patient, but it’s also a great way of shaking off any deadwood to provide an unadulterated fanbase. And the thing is, a lot of the time this kind of process appears cringingly pretentious when a band tries to write this way. However, Albini and his cohorts have always kept the balance grounded and in context, averting such problems altogether.

Excellent Italian Greyhound stands as one of my favourite Shellac albums. It’s arguably their most ambitious sounding record to date, not just for the sheer variety of sounds the LP provides, but for the well-balanced care being put into amalgamating the overindulgent elements of Terraform with the abrasive, no-nonsense riffs of At Action Park. “The End of Radio” is the best opening song to any of their albums: a titillating ride of tilted drum fills, droning bass notes, dissonant guitar chords, and a scathing satirical attack on modern America’s radio stations; a juxtaposition of mockery and lamenting anguish over the course of the song’s entire scenario. “I’d like to thank our sponsor. We don’t have a sponsor. Not if you were the last man on earth, and she was prepared to prove it. This one goes out to a special girl. There is no special girl. It’s the end of radio” Albini lambastes with a nuance of disdainful hilarity and a boatload of sincerity to boot. It’s raw, it’s uneasy, and it’s an excellent centre piece for the album. The transition from “The End of Radio” into “Steady as She Goes” is another excellent artistic choice, which throws Shellac’s signature metallic-juggernaut guitar tones into the forefront of driving grooves with a bounce. And “Be Prepared”’s unhinged and raw introduction adds a layer of spontaneity and feels like an off-the-cuff jam that presents more depth and danger than their usual flair of hardcore punk. In fact, for most newcomers, up until “Genuine Lulabelle”, Excellent Italian Greyhound should deliver in all the right ways. It’s fairly conventional for a Shellac record and lacks the usual self-indulgences some of their previous works are known for.

For the uninitiated however, “Genuine Lulabelle” and a couple of moments in the proceeding tracks thereafter can, understandably, be seen as arbitrary or a little pointless. “Genuine Lulabelle” has a vague avant-garde style to it – completely devoid of anything the first half of the LP initially offered. The thing to remember about this piece though, is it’s a narrative-based song centred around individual perceptions and memories – fragmented and sectioned into long-winded, silent intermissions before moving onto the next interpreter. It’s certainly not for everyone, and it definitely detracts from everything that’s been built up to that point, but it’s an interesting segment that moves the listener into phase two of the album: utilising their creativity to balance the artsy side of their personality with the conventional side. “Kittypants” and “Paco” are upbeat instrumentals filled to the brim with vibrant colours of melody; “Boycott” is a hard-hitting rock tune with, what appears to be, an intentionally monotone vocal performance behind it all; and the closing number, “Spoke”, ironically delivers inaudible vocal freak-outs in the midsection of the track before putting the album to bed. There’s a lot more freedom being expressed during the second half of Excellent Italian Greyhound, that, if nothing else, makes this Shellac’s grandest project yet. But as I said earlier, these guys don’t take everything all that seriously, and there is a light-hearted slab of optimism nestled under its cynical exterior. If you’re looking for a straight hitter, listen to At Action Park. If you’re after something with a little more substance, look no further than the grey whippet.


FORMAT//EDITIONS: VINYL/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶/̶/̶

PACKAGING: The vinyl comes as a gatefold, housed in a slipcover with alternative artwork. It also comes included with a free copy of the album on CD.

SPECIAL EDITION: N/A

ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Excellent-Italian-Greyhound-VINYL-Shellac/dp/B000PA9PTW/ref=tmm_vnl_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1564238216 &sr=8-1



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user ratings (107)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2019


15814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Another slow week of albums for me to review, so I thought I'd review this gem since it didn't have a review yet.

Digging: Desert Sessions - Volumes 11 and 12

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 27th 2019


32736 Comments


Good review. Interesting that this has their lowest avg on the site but it's the one you chose to dole out the praise for. Never heard this band in any capacity; you reckon I'd enjoy them?

Digging: Low Roar - ross.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2019


15814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers sow. yeah, i tend to have an unintentional opposite opinion to a lot of the averages on sput lol. I have a lot of nostalgia for this record though, but I can definitely see why someone would see at action park as their best.



As for you liking them, I don't really think so -- but you never know! if you like big black or bands that sound like the jesus lizard, you'll definitely dig these. steve albini is a goddamn legend in my eyes.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 27th 2019


32736 Comments


I like what I've heard from The Jesus Lizard so there's hope. I have the same issues with gravitating towards the opposite of this site's collective opinion. That's what helps keep the balance around here, I suppose! I just listened to The End of Radio and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Might keep trekking down the path and see if I like the whole album. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

SmashIsTheWay94
July 27th 2019


1437 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

interesting that you reviewed this today. I've been going through Shellac's discog and just listened to this. I liked it on first listen but At Action Park is easily my favorite so far. 1000 hurts rules too though

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2019


15814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Sow,



ahh sweet man, glad you're digging it.



@smash



yeah, at action park is an easy choice tbf. all their discog rules imo. i just love the broader choices on this -- which is probably the same reason why it's the lowest in avg on here. lol

naughtcturnal
July 28th 2019


1379 Comments


Love big black, rapeman and Shellac's latest album. Never listened to any other Shellac album but this review is gonna change that

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2019


15814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sweet man, let us know how it goes

MiloRuggles
July 28th 2019


155 Comments


Nice review. I need to listen to more of these guys. Is this the bb code for strikethrough?

fromrows
July 29th 2019


328 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review man, love Shellac and this album like the others they have done is excellent!

Digging: Western Addiction - Tremulous

SandwichBubble
July 29th 2019


10516 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Coooool (still weakest Shellac though)

Now we just need a Dude Incredible review and we'll have a complete set

Digging: Dirt - Never Mind Dirt - Here's the Bollocks



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