Review : Shudder To Think - Live From Home
AllmusicFor roughly ten years, mostly coinciding with the '90s, D.C.'s Shudder to Think made some of the most intelligent, intricate, and downright interesting indie rock around. Craig Wedren's delicate, borderline-falsetto '50s torch singer-wail hovered over dark novellas of three-minute songs which ranged from the jagged post-hardcore of "Hit Liquor" to the barroom garage punk of "X French T-Shirt" to the pure melodic joy of "Red House" (a near-pitch-perfect pop single which modern rock radio somehow slept on). It's the sort of wide span one might expect from a band who spent time both on Dischord and Sony Records. In 1998, bassist Nathan Larson left for solo projects and Shudder to Think dissolved. The band was silent until 2007 when they re-formed for a one-off at the Mercury Lounge, then re-formed again for a short tour in 2008 and kept adding more dates as if in the flush of a renewed and cherished love affair. Live from Home, culled from that 2008 tour and released by Conor Oberst's Team Love imprint, captures that sort of spirit, that of a band who truly missed playing together, energized with the glory of rediscovering each other's musical quirks. The album opens on "Red House," and the song's deliberate build amps up the excitement and the rock & roll Sturm und Drang never lets up. Perhaps it's the pent-up energy of a powerful live band, dormant for nearly a decade, whose stage set had never been burned to wax, but Live from Home captures the thrill of the show about as well as can be done. Shudder to Think's zest in their return is palpable, this live recording both a fan essential and a good starting point....full text
PitchforkA new Polvo record. Jawbox reissues in the pipeline, and Sunny Day Real Estate reissues on the street. The just-announced Pavement reunion. The Jesus Lizard at the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival. And now, a new Shudder to Think live record? Nineties-me is totally stoked by the resurgence of decade-old stalwarts; throw in a few more key acts from that era and we're talking a total nerdgasm. (I'm looking at you, Jawbreaker.) All of this inevitably funnels down to a Blues Traveler reunion or something, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.
Based in Washington, D.C., Shudder to Think was born in the mid-1980s, a time when punk music was learning to handle shades of emotion beyond violent anger. Old dudes in combat boots will tell you that this stuff was called "emo," if you can believe it. But even among emo bands, Shudder to Think were out there. They weren't confessional, unless you count lyrics like "Poor little girl/ Screaming traffic in her hair," repeated neurotically in eerie falsetto, as confessional. And they seemed at least as indebted to Judy Garland and David Bowie as they were to Minor Threat and Government Issue.
Shudder to Think's influences were a stretch even in the post-punk era. They pumped up their aggressively wrought art-rock with healthy portions of glam and power-pop, garnished with show tunes and opera. Nathan Larson's intricate guitar leads were both wild and delicately patterned, like cracks in glass. When they leveled out into pounding waves of riffage, Craig Wedren's voice kept the fey dementia intact. Swerving recklessly from a queasy purr to a panicky vibrato, with a head full of tantrums, he seemed to always exist in the moment just before a terrible accident. He made hissy-fits sound like air-raids, sass like a veneer concealing a robust unwellness. Few guitar-centric bands have so deftly balanced the bruising, the fragile, the anthemic, and the bizarre....full text
PrefixmagHow nice it must be to know that your band is remembered fondly by enough people to merit a couple of live reunion gigs. This is the situation that Shudder To Think’s Craig Wedren found himself in a decade after his band broke up. The reunited Shudder to Think -- Wedren on guitar and vocals backed by longtime members Stuart Hill and Kevin March and supplemented by noted indie session men Jesse Krakow and Mark Watrous -- played a small tour in the fall of 2008. The document of those shows is Live From Home, which features a wide selection of tracks from the band’s beginnings at Dischord to their final Epic recordings.
While there is nothing revelatory on Live From Home, it definitely comes at the right time in Wedren’s career. Often, the live album is tacked on as an afterthought to meet a contract or to capitalize on sudden success and chronicles offers nothing but a souvenir from a show that occurred six months ago. But because Wedren had been away from this material for a full decade when this album was recorded, Live From Home offers an interesting perspective on how a musician relates to his catalog....full text
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