Shudder To Think – ‘Get Your Goat’
This is Shudder To Think’s fourth album, released in 1992, and the one that preceded ‘Pony Express Record’, which is often listed as one of the great lost albums of the 1990s.
Here they use the shifting, interlocking time signatures that would come to map out Math Rock but with a looser, more open texture. Although their music is relatively complex, they aren’t as uptight as the bands that would follow them. ‘Get Your Goat’ sees the band playing with full confidence and joy in what they’re doing, but before they tightened and amped everything up for ‘Pony Express’. There’s warmth and fun in these songs, and each one contains at least one great melodic hook. Ultimately they were making challenging pop music, rather than just challenging music.
Craig Wedren’s voice is always pure pleasure too. He has rare, if not unique, drama and range, and when he holds a note it’s like being hit by a ray gun.
Bizarrely, as Tom was introducing his record choice, he described how he had bought the Jane Sibbery album in San Francisco in 1999 at the same time as buying ‘Get Your Goat’. He had no idea that I’d brought that very album along to play. It’s a small world, particularly if you’re focussing on the angular american post-punk of the late 80s early90s part of it.
New Order – ‘Elegia’ – from ‘Low Life’
I was listening to ‘Brotherhood’ the other day and I thought about this song. I realised that it may be the single track that showed me that slow music could be as affecting and powerful as fast music. When I was at University I used to have a tape full of slow songs, almost as a novelty. I used to play it when I wanted to mope about even more than usual. I remember it had ‘Hardly Getting Over It’ by Husker Du and ‘Honey’ by Spacemen 3. I’m pretty sure ‘Elegia’ was the first track, and without the start it gave me, maybe I wouldn’t have found my way to Low, Lampchop, Slint, Bonnie Prince Billy and about half my favourite records. I haven’t listened to it for about 15 years, so I brought it along.
Tom Listened: I love Shudder to Think and, bizarrely, very nearly chose Pony Express Record for this meeting. Even though I have owned Get Your Goat for over ten years now, I haven’t listened to it anything like as much as PER and it was a real pleasure to be re-introduced to it last night. I think it always suffered by being the second Shudder to Think album I acquired, although having heard both records in the past 24 hours I have come to the conclusion that both are awesome!! Cheers Rob, great choice.
Nick listened: Weird coincidence aside, I enjoyed this greatly. Shudder To Think are a band I’ve heard of over but never had the compulsion to listen to for some reason. They’re regularly trotted out as an influence by bands I’ve loved over the last 10-12 years, from At The Drive-In to Dismemberment Plan, and I could hear the work of those bands as echoes of this. I think Rob’s right that there’s a looseness, a popness, a sense of fun in this rather than a sense of architectural rigour, but it’s probably a 5-listen record before one knows the patterns, the stops and starts, enough to dance and sing along. But dancing and singing along will happen, I have no doubt. I’ve borrowed Pony Express Record from Rob as a direct result of this choice; which is surely the point of DRC.
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