Shellac, 1000 Hurts (Touch & Go): True, Steve Albini has left me feeling ambivalent re his talents as a producer on a few occasions, though in retrospect, Nirvana's In Utero sounds agreeably unpolished. Still, there can be no doubt that as a musician, the singer/guitarist is, and always has been, a punk of the first magnitude (see the Big Black back catalogue for proof). His latest outfit, Shellac, could almost be termed a punk-power trio, mixing a virtuoso approach to musicianship (I double dog dare you to find a better rhythm section than bassist Bob Weston and drummer Todd Trainer anywhere in rock today) with a brutal, unblinking sensibility. On this, the band's third studio album, there's more than enough attitude to scare the backwards baseball cap off of any Eminem fan: "Kill him, fucking kill him / Kill him already, kill him," Albini howls on the album opener, "Prayer to God," a cathartic number describing one man's reaction to his wife's infidelity. That's just for starters: 1000 Hurts delivers death, violence and adultery galore, tearing away the veil of bourgeois normality to reveal the actual horrors of the human animal. What makes this one of the best rock albums of 2000, though, is the pulverizing music — angular and oddly syncopated power-rock that finally coalesces into aural dynamite. Hats off to Mr. Albini. — Johnny Walker (Black)

copyright (c) 2000, 2001 michael goldberg | design by elephantcloud