Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Shipping News – One Less Heartless to Fear (Africantape/ Ruminance)

Having previously released four albums (the last being in 2005), US band Shipping News have decided to go all out with their fifth LP: Who needs to record in a studio, doing take after take on each instrument until you get the sound exactly as you were hearing it in your head, when you can just go and record everything live? That is exactly what Shipping News set out to do, and they have done it in style with ‘One Less Heartless to Fear’.

The songs possess a raw energy that would never be there if too much thought was put into the recording process. You can hear the sound reflecting off the walls of the venue, the spill from one microphone to the next. None of the songs are played perfectly; they speed up and slow down throughout with a few bum notes here and there, but that is what makes live music so great. You wouldn’t want to go to a gig and hear the band play everything note perfect, would you? The tracks themselves are entirely suited for this live sound; the guitars are a mess of crunchy chords and flickering high notes, the bass is reminiscent of Lemmy’s aggressive and fast paced style, and the vocals spoken manner can sound soothing and seething at the same time. They remind me of Refused if Refused had been able to tone it down every now and then to create a five minute breakdown which built up to a mass of noise that was barely audible through its own distortion.

‘One Less Heartless to Fear’ is a great example of a live album; it shows off not only the bands song writing, but their ability to perform their material with enough energy and passion that it comes across perfectly on a recording. It leaves you wanting more, wanting to experience the Shipping News live show first hand and desperately wanting to hear what they played as an encore. 8/10

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