50,000 B.C.

CD Cover Shudder to Think

Review by Rodney Gitzel

45-second excerpt from "She's a Skull" (various formats)

"With the new album 50,000 B.C., SHUDDER (sic) have delivered a totally commercially accessible album that includes pure alternative rock 'n' roll songs and simple ballads." So quoth the press release on the new Shudder to Think album. Have you ever doubted the power of words to strike fear into one's soul?

As you might guess, this record sucks. Sorry as I am to say it, it's true. It is such a departure from albums like Pony Express Record (a stunning, amazing, beautiful record) and Get Your Goat that, if not for Craig Wedren's distinctive voice, you'd swear it wasn't the same band.

So what's the problem? Well, the songs are so... unremarkable. And normal. One of the band's strengths is (was) that they weren't "accessible." They were different -- different rhythmically, harmonically, sonically -- yet they were still definitely a rock band. (Pony Express Record was "almost impossible to define and was void of categorization," says the press release, which no doubt struck fear into Epic's accountants.) The band was unique. And now they're just yet another "pure alternative" band.

There are a couple tunes, "Call of the Playground" and "Red House," which have wormed into my head, and which might have found their way onto the poppier parts of previous albums (indeed, the latter was originally released on 1991's Funeral at the Movies). "She's a Skull" has a cool Shudder to Think-ish riff -- but also a somewhat goofy chorus. "All Eyes are Different" and "Resident Wine" are frightening mixes of soul and jazzy bits, while "The Saddest Day of My Life" is a snoozer.

Sadly, the most interesting part of the CD is the multimedia part, which documents the progression of a few of the songs over a year. Too bad it documents the decline, and not the rise, of a cool band...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 13, 1997

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