Steve Albini. He’s a polarizing man within the rock community. He’s recorded (he hates the term “producer”) some of alternative rock’s most enduring works, which includes In Utero by Nirvana and Surfer Rosa by The Pixies. He was a one time rock journalist, and is still an outspoken critic against the norms and tropes of the music industry that makes Billy Corgan seem like the shy kid in the corner who never speaks.
Though he has recorded more music than most will ever even listen to in their lifetimes, many don’t realize that he is actually an influential and prolific singer/guitarist for multiple rock outfits, all of which share the trait of having weird names. Here’s a sample of three of his biggest projects: Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac.
Albini’s first major project, Big Black have released two full length albums and multiple extended plays. This was the project that really made Steve into the underground legend that he is today. Besides their outspoken lyrics that held no bars in subject matter, what really set the band apart from other punk outfits of the 1980’s was their use of a drum machine, credited as an official band member named Roland. Apparently, Albini didn’t know any human drummers who didn’t “blow out of a pig’s asshole”. This gave them a distinctive industrial sound, predating the industrial rock revolution by years. Their classic Atomizer, which Kurt Cobain listed as one of his favorites of all time in his journals, contains songs like the unrelentingly brutal “Jordan, Minnesota”, displaying stark lyrics about sexual abuse, the obnoxiously catchy riffage of “Passing Complexion”, and what is perhaps their most popular tune, “Kerosene”.[youtube id=”HuO3wwLuF0w” width=”620″ height=”360″]
No, Albini’s not glorifying rape. Rapeman (which also features members of Scratch Acid) was named after an offbeat Japanese manga that Albini became enamored with. Albini’s second major project after the collapse of Big Black, Rapeman managed to release an EP and LP during their two years on the circuit. The group’s sound is similar to Big Black, though augmented with sort of a post-punk attitude.
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Albini’s third (and current) major project, Shellac is described on Wikipedia as being “post hardcore” or “math rock”. I hate labels, and its best to let the music do the talking. All I can really say is this: really tight riff-based rock music. Go listen to their debut album At Action Park if you get the chance.
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