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EERDERE EDITIES | 2004 | MAIN STAGE | SHIPPING NEWS


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Biography

Shipping News began in the Fall of 1996 when Jeff Mueller and Jason Noble wrote and recorded music for the NPR program "This American Life". They had previously worked together in the seminal post-hardcore band Rodan, based in Louisville, Kentucky. When Rodan split up in 1995, Jeff Mueller went on to play in June of 44 whilst Jason Noble formed the chamber ensemble Rachel's. Like Rodan, both of these bands have garnered critical acclaim in many lands.

 

 

In Spring of 1997, Kyle Crabtree began collaborating with them. The recording project became a full band, its voice dropped, legs got hairy and started reading Henry Miller. They recorded their first album, 'Save Everything', in a shotgun house in Louisville and then finished in Chicago with Bob Weston on deck. Released in September of 1997, it was met with much enthusiasm and occasional disgust. A split EP with the band MetroSchifter soon followed in May of 1998. In Autumn of 1998 they traveled to Catania, Sicily to participate in the Mappe Arts Festival....playing outside in a harbour at night, history gushing out with dust and sound, looking around amazed at how music travels, amazed at everything....

For the next two and a half years, Jeff, Kyle and Jason set about writing their next album, 'Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company'. After its release the band followed up with several tours of the US and Europe, culminating in an appearance at the Shellac curated All Tomorrows Parties in 2002.

 

 

During this time the band individually recorded three EPs, which were treated almost as solo projects, with no discussion taking place between the members of the band as to what they were doing. The EPs were given very limited releases over the course of a 12 months on Quaterstick records. They were then brought together, along with a couple of unreleased tracks, as an album " Three-Four". The release of this album in February 2003 should have been followed by a massive European tour, unfortunately canceled in the very last minut.

With a brand new album to be released, this mythic band will thus come at the Rhâââ Lovely Festival for an exclusive show in Europe, after 3 years without playing a single show on the old continent !

 

Discography

-) 1997 : 'Save Everything' on Quarterstick Records.

Pitchfork Media's point of view :
Kicking off with the driving "Books on Trains," there's immediately something angrier dripping from his pen. His imagery is dark and melancholy, and never, at any point on Save Everything do the lyrics show any hint of hope. While Shipping News comes off jagged and forcefully, there's always something deeper hidden underneath that reveals sensitivity and longing ("I'll lay with you / I'll whisper things that only you will hear / And only you will hear / Because you'll be so near.") On the lengthy, experimental tracks "Steerage" and "A True Lover's Knot,"the band provides us with intriguing soundscapes and noise that could only be made by guys who are truly experienced with recording equipment.
Save Everything has a core that the majority of indie rock albums lack. It's clear these guys are not just brainless rock kids with guitars. They're experienced mathematicians who not only came to rock, but to feel ; a sound that's been attempted by thousands, but not rarely achieved until now.

Ryan Schreiber - site.

 

-) 1998 : split-CD with MetroShifter.

 

-) 2001 : 'Very Soon, And In Pleasant Company' on Quarterstick Records.

Pop Matters' point of view :
On their second full-length release, 'Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company', Noble and crew shun the traditional verse-chorus format prevalent in most radio-ready pop music, instead, fashioning their songs from a series of parts that travel effectively from one emotion to another, and rarely repeat themselves. Like the most memorable film or novel, music constructed in this manner "works" when enough space is permitted — intentionally or accidentally — between the vocals and instrumentation, to allow the mood generated by the music to function as a springboard for creative thought. And if you are appropriately attentive, the dense, nostalgic journey yields new perspectives with each listen.
Perhaps the most successful manifestation of this idea is found on "Quiet Victories". The song consists of two essential parts, the opening half, features Mueller's descending, delay-pedaled guitar that ebbs and flows like turbid ocean waves on a polluted beachfront, while percussionist Kyle Crabtree punctuates the proceedings with sparse, impressionistic slaps of the snare drum and cymbals, a Zen-like approach popularized by Dirty Three's Jim White. On the second half of the song, the aural ingredients congeal into an ominous piano-driven groove that satisfyingly hints at the darker moods of Black Heart Procession, while Mueller conjures up the ghost of the Louisville band Slint with his grungy guitar epilogue.
If there is a weakness to 'Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company', it is found in the frail vocals supplied by Mueller, Noble and Crabtree (I can't discern between them), which sound endearingly self-conscious but sincere on "Actual Blood", and off-key afterthoughts on "A Simple Halo" and "Contents of a Landfill". Nevertheless, "Contents of Landfill" shares a similarly expansive quality with "Quiet Victories". With the assistance of Christian Frederickson on viola and Edward Grimes on vibes, this sprawling track recalls the gentle, introverted beauty of Noble's other band, Rachel's, who have mastered the classically tinged, mood-inducing soundscape that cannot be fully appreciated until you've boarded a train in Europe on an overcast day to some unknown destination.
And that is the lasting value of Shipping News: their music makes you feel as though you've traveled somewhere important — spiritually or geographically — even if you've haven't left your house.

Joel Hanson - site.

 

 

-) 2002 : trois EP 'solo' on Quarterstick Records.

 

-) 2003 : 'Three-four' on Quarterstick Records.

Pop Matters' point of view :
'Three-Four' is a hunted record. There is something predatory and dreadful stirring somewhere beyond the margins. This ain't candy, it's more like tough meat; in fact, there's a significant amount of tough gristle, and consequently isn't for everybody. On the other hand, flirting dangerously with the overly cerebral, the Shipping News somehow manage to isolate (at least a part of) the traumatized heart of enough of these songs to make this collection worthwhile.

David Antrobus - site.

Fake Jazz's point of view :
Here, under the most improbable of circumstances, the Shipping News have in fact delivered their finest record. Over the course of a year, the band released three limited edition EPs, which have been compiled, along with a handful of new tunes, onto this release. Further, the songs were not recorded by the band as a band, but individually by individual members without discussion or input from the others. How can it possibly work, you wonder? Well, for historical precedent, I suppose there is The Beatles .
The answer is, I don't know how it worked, but it certainly did. Though it does not necessarily sound like a cohesive album in terms of the songs all being of a time and place, it has an incredible unity. Perhaps it is the sound of freedom. As each member had been released from the confines of the group, free to explore withersoever he wilt, that each have found, independently, the same destination. A truly remarkable achievement.
Most of the songs on Three-Four reflect the maturity that the players have developed. That is not to say that they are limp, turgid, or staid, but they have a focus and a simplicity, free of extraneous motion, that is the result of refinement of craft over time. Songs like "Haunted on Foot" draw out a theme, reworking it, growing more intense over time, but naturally, and without cheap theatrics like dramatic shifts in volume or tone. Others, like "Paper Lanterns," lay a simple foundation, in this case rolling bass and drums, which leave wide open space into which guitars, organs, and other detritus flow, pop, and burst. Still, others, like "Haymaker," simply kick your ass. The best track, however, is Jason Noble's intense yet transcendent "We Start to Drift," in which a fairly rapid keyboard rhythm is offset by paced drumming and the trance-like chant of the layered vocal, which creates a sensation of motion and still at once, like floating in the center of an eddy.
The best thing about this record is, however, a sense that the Shipping News have fully moved from beneath the shadow of those other bands, which, though worthy, shall remain unnamed. Previously—and this very well may be projection on my part—Shipping News records seemed inevitably tied to the members previous or concurrent efforts in other projects. Perhaps due to their growth as songwriters, perhaps due to uniqueness of sound in these songs, or perhaps due to the freedom of this projects parameters, the Shipping News finally feels like its own entity: completely separate from any other (except for their name).

David Christensen - site.

 

 

Audio

-) Books On Train, taken from Save Everything.
-) The March Song, taken from Very Soon, And In Pleasant Company.
-) Live concert on Transmission3000.

 

Web

-) Official websote.