Shellac – ‘Spoke’

Spoke by Shellac goes to show you what you can do with one chord, two minutes, a distortion pedal and a shitload of adrenaline. Between the snippet of fake radio commercial at the start and the final, climactic chord crash, there’s 120 seconds of raucous, unhinged, spontaneous, noise-rock fun.

Even if you’re well familiar with the song, the ‘lyric video’ below is worth watching since someone’s gone to the trouble of phonetically spelling the rabid noises that Steve Albini and Bob Weston bark and holler by way of lyrics.

Spoke closes Shellac’s 2007 album Excellent Italian Greyhound and acts as a light-hearted counterpoint to the intensity of some of the tracks that precede it, notably The End of Radio, Be Prepared and the equally brilliant Steady As She Goes. Intense as they can be, their material’s usually shot through with a strong undercurrent of playful humour. Never more so than on Spoke.

Uber-engineer, punk idealist and living legend Steve Albini and underground heroes Bob Weston and Todd Trainer have been playing loosely together as Shellac between other engagements for more than 20 years now, releasing five albums of their smart and distinctively sparse hardcore in that time, most recently Dude Incredible in 2014.

The informal nature of the arrangement these three have is illustrated by the Shellac page on the Touch & Go website:

Band information: While there is no specific coordination between Shellac’s record releases and touring schedules, you can expect the band to tour at its usual sporadic and relaxed pace.

Current: Shellac will have a new LP anytime between now and the future.

Maybe this non-committal attitude is the key to their longevity and the stability of their line-up – as well as the reason that, of late they average only one album every seven years.

Shellac are touring – “at their usual sporadic and relaxed pace” – in the UK and Ireland next month. Cool!


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Nick Perry

Nick writes fact, fiction and opinion in various places including
his music blog His musical tastes cover indie, grunge, golden-era hip hop, punk, funk, psychedelia and a big portion of distortion. You can and should follow him on Twitter @NoiseCrumbs.

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