top of page

Entry date: 5-27-2024 – Memory-All Day – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


There has been too much death lately. My memory is going bonkers thinking about the different times I’ve had with people I will never get to talk to again. I’m not saying there is not afterlife, but if there is, I can’t imagine that we have the same type of conversations as we do as human beings.


I’d like to believe there is some type of consciousness on the other side, but it seems highly unlikely that it is anything we can grasp either emotionally or cognitively. All I can picture when I try to imagine what happens next is such a massive wave of change that we are almost wiped clean. Maybe we just reboot.




I had a really nice day yesterday. A bit of family time mid-morning and then working on the bathroom with Ash for the rest of the day. We ran into some weirdness as we did some cuts, but progress was made and I’m ready for more today. I had hoped the tiling would be done today, and it’s possible it will be, but it will be a full day.




I thought Steve Albini would live for a long time. As a fan of his work, I assumed that at some point, I would either record with him or interview him. I kind of took it for granted, actually. When Hillbilly Devilspeak first started, we dreamed of being good enough for Albini to give us the time of day. I didn’t know what it would have cost, but I tried to figure out ways to make it work and even came close a few times to reaching out to him.


When I first started writing these record pieces, I don’t think I could have imagined there being a record so good that came out this year that I would be able to say that I love it. But then I heard To All Trains, which was Albini’s last record, and came out just a few days after his death. I’ve been listening to it ever since.


To be honest, if he had not died, I wouldn’t have been in a hurry to listen to it. I like Shellac and have their first record, At Action Park, which came out 30 years ago, but that is the only one I own. I know the others are good and I should own them, but there is so much other music and during the time Shellac has been putting out stuff, I’ve been putting out stuff, too.


I do regret, though, snoozing on the other four Shellac records now. I think I’ve been behaving in a slightly passive-aggressive way when it comes to Albini and Shellac because they have ignored playing Phoenix on their infrequent tours. I love our city and think all bands should come here, but the numbers must say otherwise.


Regardless, though, I have been immersed in To All Trains for the past week and because it is so short at just under 30 minutes, there have been times where I have just let it play two or three times in a row. It is comforting, I suppose. There has been a lot of loss in my life lately and while my only connection to Steve Albini was his music, it is still nice to hear his voice.


Lyrically, it’s probably very easy to read things into the songs on To All Trains. There are many remarks about death. The last track, “I Don’t Fear Hell,” is chilling to listen to knowing Albini is gone.


“If there’s a heaven, I hope they’re having fun because if there is a hell, I’m gonna know everyone.”


The other thing that is so great about To All Trains is that if you take Albini out of the equation completely, it’s just a really good record. Bob Weston’s vocals on “How I Wrote How I Wrote Elastic Man (Cock & Bull)” is a lovely change of pace and his bass paired with Todd Trainer’s drums are fucking fantastic.


It’s produced beautifully, too, with everything sounding great (as usual for Albini) and the guitar tone is bad ass (as usual, too). You know it is an Albini thing from the first notes of “WSOD.” After the long intro, it’s just vocals, bass, and drums for a bit and it rules. Then the buzzsaw takes over and you know you are in for a ride.


The record just doesn’t let up, either. “Girl From Outside” and “Chick New Wave” are both outstanding at building tension and releasing it just enough to let you have a short breath of air. I guess, in a way, it’s almost like the record is holding you under the water the way an older sibling might have done when you were younger. They knew just when to let you grab a quick breath before sending you down for more. You are dying but loving the attention, too.


“Tattoos” and “Wednesday” are both kind of dark. Albini has never had a problem tackling the darkness. “Scrappers” is all fits and starts and repetitive attack before Albini says, “We’ll be pirates.” I love that line.



I like “Days Are Dogs” a lot, too. It’s got the start/stop things going on, too. If there is one song that doesn’t really resonate with me lyrically, It’s “Scabby the Rat.” I love the riff, though, and even though the “Scabby the Rat” part doesn’t really do it for me, there are some good lines.


I can’t recommend spending time with this record enough. It’s a must listen for all Shellac/Albini fans. It might make you cry a little, though.




See you tomorrow.


21 views0 comments


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page