Shipping News - Live in San Fran (2001)
As I may have previously mentioned, and will probably mention many times in the future, the 90's Louisville music scene is one of my most favorite in the world. The fact that this particular sound lives on very few places makes the existence of Shipping News a wonderful thing. For those who may not be familiar Shipping News was began a few years after the demise of the great Rodan. Jason Noble, at the time (and possibly currently?) was playing in the avant chamber orchestra post rock band Rachel's, led by pianist Rachel Grimes. Jeff Mueller was playing in the similarly incredible and very Slint-worthy band June of 44. Kevin Coultas and Tara Jane O'Neil have not joined their one time band mates and drums have instead been filled by Louisville native, Kyle Crabtree, also of the band Metroschifter. The trio expands upon the sound of their experiments begun in Rodan, fusing tight angular rhythms with sometimes breezy and sometimes jarring guitar and bass signatures.
On to the goods. As a general rule of thumb most live shows arent worth more than a passing listen. Sound qualities are often mediocre and a lot of times bands will just play the source material to the best of their present abilities. Of course you come across the occasional show that is powered with so much crowd positivity, or maybe the band was just in a fantastic mood, but you can garner a few good tracks, possibly even better than the originals. The clincher are the bands that expand on their sounds ina live setting. Shipping News is a perfect candidate for a good live show recording. And this is what we have here.
Recorded in 2001 at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, Shipping News deliver in ways I am often surprised at. As a fan of the News I feel it safe to say that this recording is the best way to experience them. Not only is the set list wonderful, but each and every song is given incredible breathing room. Songs like Quiet Victories and Steerage are far better than their originals. March Song, while not having the Steve Albini treatment, has a much more powerful lurch, and Actual Blood sounds like it quelled even the smallest whispers in the audience, with its tense shimmer and brooding vocals. An unreleased track, Claws, sounds amazing, and Books on Train closes out the set wonderfully.
Did I mention this is a soundboard recording? It really sounds great. Its perfect for headphones or home stereos. I'll have to say, it is my preferred way of experiencing these songs. Every musician is completely on this night, and they sound proud of their songs.