Shellac | Excellent Italian Greyhound (Touch and Go)

cd_shellacWith this long of a layoff, it is important to stress that Excellent Italian Greyhound is a Shellac record. There are no big surprises to be found inside.






I love Shellac. I love Shellac for reasons beyond their records. Seven years ago, when Shellac was prepping the release of their third LP 1000 Hurts, their Southern Records webpage provided very little specifics about the new record. However, they did take time to mention that 1000 Hurts did not have any 12-minute songs. This was in reference to the epic "Didn't We Deserve a Look at You the Way You Really Are" from 1998's Terraform. It was also directed toward the critical barbs that were tossed Shellac's way. I found the song's existence hilarious, a well-placed prank meant to elicit the response it received by many critics. Take what is essentially a two- to three-note song and milk it for 12 fucking minutes. With the exception of Fugazi, I cannot think of another band that operated on their own terms with more conviction. However, it was these convictions that garnished distain from some and borderline reverence from others. The numbers of "Shellac Stories" are far too numerous to list. However, if you want to read the details of the greatest Shellac prank ever, Google "Shellac Halloween 1998" for the full details.

As it were, it has been seven years since 1000 Hurts—seven fucking years, guys! Shellac of North America has finally returned with Excellent Italian Greyhound, their fourth full length and thirteenth release in all. With this long of a layoff, it is important to stress that EIG is a Shellac record. There are no big surprises to be found inside. It is simply Steve Albini, Bob Weston, and Todd Trainer churning through the meat grinder of skronk, as they have done many times before. This isn't an amazing record, as there are some rather boring toss-offs in "Kittypants" and "Boycott," but majority of this record is solid Shellac. After starting strong with standout tracks "The End of Radio," "Steady as She Goes," "Be Prepared," and "Boycott," EIG slows to a crawl with the nine-minute-long "Genuine Lulabelle." Featuring spoken blurbs from some unlikely sources—trust me, you will recognize them—"Lulabelle" really is a take-it-or-leave-it song. I do not care for it, but given the overtly opinionated nature of some Shellac fans, it is quite likely "Lulabelle" will be a favorite for some.

So where does Excellent Italian Greyhound fall when compared to their previous records? Who knows? Let the arguments begin. Just make sure you bring your baseball helmet with the double ear flaps. B | David Lichius

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