Dear indie kid: your relationship with Shellac, it’s OK

Shellac decided to go into the studio again and when they came out they had their new album, ‘Excellent Italian Greyhound,’ in their hands

Haily Gostas

Shellac probably couldn’t care less about you, or anyone else for that matter. They haven’t cared since the early ’90s, so why start now?

Shellac

ALBUM: Excellent Italian Greyhound
LABEL: Touch and Go

Unlike many other renowned indie rock bands (and despite having rightfully earned their veteran status), its three members – bassist Bob Weston, drummer Todd Trainer and the very busy, very infamous engineer Steve Albini – have made it abundantly clear that they have no desire or need to make Shellac a full-time gig.

They hardly give interviews. They despise promotion. They refuse to go digital. Even their label Web site can’t discipline them and instead only further reinforces their brand of rowdy independence. (“Shellac will have a new album anytime between now and the future. You can expect the band to tour at its usual sporadic and relaxed pace.”)

The seven-year wait from 2000’s “1000 Hurts” to new album “Excellent Italian Greyhound” was just more business as usual. Nevermind that it was likely excruciating for their long-established, rabid fan base; Shellac do what Shellac want. And what they wanted was to tinker with tracks until satisfied and to wait for an appropriate moment to present it (a work ethic most musicians would be better off following).

Much of “Excellent Italian Greyhound” is Shellac practicing their brand of distinctively minimalist sludge rock, savoring the in-jokes buried beneath Albini’s bitingly witty verse and generally stomping around to show who’s boss. It might not be anything new, but it’s still better than most.

Simple in sound but theatrical at heart, opening track “The End of Radio” makes like a broadcasted apocalypse. Albini assumes the role of the last DJ on earth, repeatedly wailing “Can you hear me now???” to an abandoned atmosphere and, of course, over face-melting guitar riffs and military drum rolls.

“Steady as She Goes” and “Boycott” are more examples of Shellac’s hard-driving, metalicious approach they’ve since trademarked. Still, when closing number “Spoke” dissolves into punk rock-reminiscent screaming, incoherent and nearly intolerable, you can’t help but feel like Shellac’s simply pushing buttons (but that you love them for it, anyway).

“Excellent Italian Greyhound” proves the boys can still stimulate without turning stale or going soft. The best part is that this is simply Shellac in their own time and on their own terms, and they have a solid nine-song collection to prove, despite any stubborn insistence, just how gratifying that can be.