Results for Steve Albini

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Touch and Go Records

This week Jim and Greg wanted to take a look at one of the music industry's most important independent labels: Touch and Go Records. Touch and Go recently turned 25 and celebrated with a three-day bash at Chicago's Hideout Block Party. Over the course of the show, you‘ll hear why Jim and Greg wanted to focus on this modest Chicago label. You’ll also hear from the founder himself, Corey Rusk, and a number of the label's artists, including Scott McCloud from Girls Against Boys, Janet Weiss from Quasi (and formerly Sleater-Kinney), Ted Leo, David Yow from Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard and recording engineer and musician Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac fame.

Touch and Go's founder Corey Rusk is known not just as a tastemaker with an incredible ear for talent, but also as one of the most honest businessmen in the biz. This is what separates Touch and Go from other labels, major and independent alike. Rusk's business model, which doesn't shy away from the Internet and which relies merely on trust and a handshake, has kept it going for 25 years, helping it to outlive its peers. Labels like Twin/Tone in Minneapolis, which launched The Replacements, SST in California which launched Black Flag and Hüsker Dü, and I.R.S. in which launched R.E.M. and The Go Go's, all emerged in the early '80s after punk's mainstream explosion and before alternative's reign. However, Touch and Go is the only one of the bunch not only to stay in business, but to do so successfully and independently.

The best way to understand the label's significance is to sample some of the music. You'll hear these songs in our short-but-sweet montage of Touch and Go music:

  1. Killdozer, "Hi There"
  2. Girls Against Boys, "Kill the Sexplayer"
  3. The Dirty Three, "Doris"
  4. Jesus Lizard, "Mouth Breather"
  5. TV on the Radio, "Dreams"
  6. Butthole Surfers, "Fast"
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Art Star"
  8. Calexico, "Cruel"

Touch and Go has put out a lot of music over the past quarter century, but Jim and Greg both manage to pick their single favorite T&G tracks. Greg goes first and chooses "Stage 2000" by Seam. Touch and Go is often thought of as the place to go to for loud, hard-edged punk music, and that is certainly true. However, their roster is actually quite diverse, and there are a number of bands like Seam, who are making beautiful, soft, melodic music.“Stage 2000”is on Greg's favorite Seam album, The Problem With Me. That album was recorded with Chicago producer Brad Wood, best known for producing Liz Phair's classic Exile in Guyville.

Jim's Touch and Go pick is "Kerosene" by Big Black off their 1985 album Atomizer. Though Atomizer was initially released by Homestead Records, Big Black moved to Touch and Go a year later, and the label reissued the band's entire catalog. So we'll let Jim slide on this one — especially since no one has been as closely associated with Touch and Go as Big Black founder Steve Albini. Albini came to Chicago to study journalism at Northwestern, and Jim can hear this sensibility in his lyrics. Songs like "Kerosene" are essentially sensationalistic tabloid stories backed with thrashing noise-rock.

Go to episode 43
reviews
Excellent Italian GreyhoundExcellent Italian Greyhound available on iTunes

Shellac Excellent Italian Greyhound

Up next is another band that knows how to make its fans wait. Chicago-based indie punk group Shellac has a new album called Excellent Italian Greyhound, and it's only been a mere seven years since the last one. Guitarist and singer Steve Albini is best known as the utilitarian recordist who has captured the sounds of everyone from Nirvana to the garage band next door. He's joined by drummer Todd Trainer and bassist Bob Weston for a sound that is as real as you're ever going to hear in a recorded work. There are no fancy tricks here, just a minimalist approach. And with what Greg describes as a“tongue placed very firmly in cheek,”the band makes powerful punk music with a sense of humor. However both Greg and Jim admit that not all of the tracks are winners, and therefore Excellent Italian Greyhound gets two Try Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 84
The WeirdnessThe Weirdness available on iTunes

The Stooges The Weirdness

Despite any personal issues that band members might have had, Ron Ashteon explains that he was excited at Iggy's invite to start things up again so many years later. They enlisted the help of Chicago-based recordist Steve Albini and made The Weirdness. Greg states right away that this album isn‘t in the same category as the band’s first three. He thinks it's a solid effort, however. Greg was impressed by the rhythm section of Scott Asheton and Mike Watt of The Minutemen, but missed the strong songwriting and melodies of songs like "I Wanna Be Your Dog." He counts Iggy Pop as the wild card, and doesn‘t think he’s up to par. He gives The Weirdness a Burn It. Jim's reaction to the album was just a bit more negative. He calls it a“disaster”and an“embarrassment,”and doubts Greg will ever listen to it again. He thinks Ron Asheton is doing as fine a job as ever, but was offended by the stupidity of Iggy Pop's lyrics, which push racial and sexual hot buttons. Jim wants to remind Iggy that as a man about to turn 60, he can no longer sing about living fast and dying young. Jim gives The Stooges' reunion effort a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 66
news

Music News

Proving the adage that everyone is a critic, the Vatican has released its first official Top Ten List of albums. The official Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has endorsed records by Oasis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. And perhaps for the title alone, they also included Carlos Santana's Supernatural. It made a point of not including Bob Dylan, however, on the grounds that generations of less-talented Dylan acolytes have "harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners with their inferior imitations, thinking that their tortured meanderings might interest somebody."

In other music news, rock producer Ian Burgess passed away last week. As Jim explains, Burgess was one of the architects of the hyper-aggressive, yet melodic, indie rock sounds of the 1980's. He worked with a number of Midwest bands such as Naked Raygun, Pegboy and Big Black. He also served as a mentor to Big Black founder-turned producer Steve Albini. To honor Burgess, Jim and Greg play "I Don't Know" off Naked Raygun's 1985 album Throb Throb.

Go to episode 221