» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Owned & Operated

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Shiner are an odd, misfortunate bunch. They have been playing their fairly acclaimed shoe-gaze meets metal brand of post-glam rock for years and years. They have toured with everyone from Jawbox to Sunny Day Real Estate and are one of many siblings in the Midwest space/sludge rock family of HUM, Castor, C-Clamp, et cetera. They have always been media darlings, posturing (and touting looks) somewhere between dirty oil field workers and late night club goers. Indeed everyone knows about them, yet their press sheets seems to brag about selling a less than Forbes 12,000 copies between their last two albums. So much for world domination.

For all their selling points, good looks and guitar craftsmanship Shiner can't seem to get off the ground, perhaps taking even a loss of altitude with the aptly named Starless. Don't get me wrong, the eleven tracks representing here are worth hearing - the problem comes in when assessing the band's growth. Sound wise, they haven't seemed to make any steps forward since their well received Lula Divina, opting instead for a few steps to the side, switching labels like Liz Taylor at a singles bar. Starless does have its high points on "Too Much of Not Enough" and "Giants Chair" but constantly draws attention to its failure at experimentation. For example, "The Arrangement," which I have a sad suspicion is the band's new flagship, is unfortunately very, very, very, very flaky. Not flaky like good pie crust but rather flaky like those girls who go off to college and "discover" themselves. Like a transient form of tacky. Like something Kenny G and Thom Yorke might have written in a martini fueled frenzy of 80's sentimentality.

I actually like Shiner as much as the next guy, going so far as to interview them for last summer's ROCK double issue, but my face turns a little red when I listen to them around my rocker buddies. I can drop in Lula Divina without so much as a second thought around my lady friends who don't know the difference, but when I'm hanging with the rock scholars I tend to get a little embarrassed at how much Shiner can sound like Alice In Chains. Need an example? How about the prelude to and the chorus of "Glass Jaw Test"? Man, that is spooky.

I don't know, I guess I've listened to this record several times of my own accord and I have actually enjoyed it a lot aside from "The Arrangement" and some of the more annoying effects, but I can't get over the feeling of let down, especially after nearly three years since Lula caught my ear. Even the artwork, directed and executed by the brilliant Andy Mueller, is fairly blasť. I guess the jury is hung, opting for an oatmeal cream pie rather than a fruitless dissection of a highly anticipated yet fairly unmoving album.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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