Friday, April 02, 2010

Oreilles Gauloises (Travis Bean Guitars Edition) - At Action Park (Shellac)

I don't remember why I bought my first Shellac album. I don't think I'd heard their music before. It could have been that I was intrigued by the art on the cover of the album Terraform. In any case,  I did walk out of Mars, a record store that was once located on Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Square, with their album in my hand. This was back in the mid 90's. Great album, but not as great as this one. This one is what sealed the deal for me.

Steve Albini is a relatively well-known recording engineer and producer. He's done work with all sorts of bands, including Nirvana, the Pixies, The Stooges, and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page. He's also a musician in his own right. His band Big Black had a couple of great albums that are highly regarded in the punk/indie music community. Shellac, his current band, has been around for about 15 years, and they release albums every 4-5 years (the members have day-jobs, so-to-speak, and they're not under pressure by their record company to put out music every 6 months, which is the way it should be if you ask me). Albini is also a very polarizing character because of his strong views on the record industry, his recording techniques, and his often-shocking song lyrics. People seem to either worship him, or hate his guts. Me, I just like a lot of the songs he's written, and the way the man plays his guitar.

If you're like me, and are a big fan of Travis Bean guitars, you'll love this album. They're made out of really hard wood, with a metal neck - practically indestructible - and they have that metallic tone that makes them really unique. Many jazz and rock musicians have used these guitars in the 70's and 80's, including the Rolling Stones, PiL, and the Grateful Dead, and more recently, The Jesus Lizard....and Shellac. They stopped producing the guitars in 1979, so there are a limited number of them floating around, and owning one is a real privilege, and the envy of many.

This is the album that reminded me how amazing guitars can sound, and gave me back my faith that guitar-based music still had a lot to offer. If you know a band that uses Travis Bean instruments, go see them live, and you'll hear what I mean right away.

1 comment:

Travis Bean Guitars said...

Got to love those Travis Bean Guitars. If you want a updated list of bands (big and small) that play them.. or played them on various recordings, etc. Check out: Bean Bands at


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