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Live from Home

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Album Review

For roughly ten years, mostly coinciding with the '90s, D.C.'s Shudder to Think made some of the most intelligent, intricate, and downright interesting indie rock around. Craig Wedren's delicate, borderline-falsetto '50s torch singer-wail hovered over dark novellas of three-minute songs which ranged from the jagged post-hardcore of "Hit Liquor" to the barroom garage punk of "X French T-Shirt" to the pure melodic joy of "Red House" (a near-pitch-perfect pop single which modern rock radio somehow slept on). It's the sort of wide span one might expect from a band who spent time both on Dischord and Sony Records. In 1998, bassist Nathan Larson left for solo projects and Shudder to Think dissolved. The band was silent until 2007 when they re-formed for a one-off at the Mercury Lounge, then re-formed again for a short tour in 2008 and kept adding more dates as if in the flush of a renewed and cherished love affair. Live from Home, culled from that 2008 tour and released by Conor Oberst's Team Love imprint, captures that sort of spirit, that of a band who truly missed playing together, energized with the glory of rediscovering each other's musical quirks. The album opens on "Red House," and the song's deliberate build amps up the excitement and the rock & roll Sturm und Drang never lets up. Perhaps it's the pent-up energy of a powerful live band, dormant for nearly a decade, whose stage set had never been burned to wax, but Live from Home captures the thrill of the show about as well as can be done. Shudder to Think's zest in their return is palpable, this live recording both a fan essential and a good starting point.


Formed: 1986 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Shudder to Think's hardcore punk background (courtesy of their affiliation with the D.C.-based label Dischord Records, also the home of Fugazi) doesn't give the best indication of their sound, since the group embraced pop influences and a skewed sense of songwriting as well. Formed in 1986, the band's initial lineup -- vocalist/guitarist Craig Wedren, guitarist Chris Matthews, bassist Stuart Hill, and drummer Mike Russell -- released two singles and one 1989 album (Curse, Spells, Voodoo, Mooses)...
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