Shudder to Think: Reunion Tour
Weirdly, Shudder to Think is a band that I didn’t get to deep into. But I really, really got into one album. Specifically, Pony Express Record. I first heard them while in College, through my roommate Jim, and I more or less locked on to that particular album.
And when I say locked on, I’m serious about that. I think I looped it over and over (as I tend to do) for a ridiculously long time. Even after college, I remember playing the crap out of this album while in grad school.
And let me clarify. When I say over and over, I mean this as literally as possible. For a while there, I’d daresay it was the only CD in my computer for anywhere from 4 to 6 months. It’s ALL THAT I PLAYED. If I sat down to work, to write a poem, a paper… if I was playing music, that was the album.
And to highlight my whole repeat-ad-nauseum thing a bit more… it didn’t even occur to me, didn’t even come up as an option, to go out and get another of their albums. It wasn’t until, years later circa 2006, that I even thought hey… maybe I should check out other stuff they’ve done.
I haven’t really given the other albums too much of my ears/time. I bought Get Your Goat and Funeral at the Movies. Still, my favorite album is Pony Express, even after all this time.
It’s hard for me to describe just exactly what it is I liked so much about Shudder to Think (and more specifically, about Pony Express). There are some catchy tunes, but nothing in any traditional sense of the word.
There’s this weird, inexplicable thing that they do with syncopation, with the words falling just a little off the regular beat. There’s also this constant push/pull between dissonance and its eventual resolution. Instead of a traditional pop song where there are clearly marked melodic boundaries (chorus, refrain), there are moments in songs by them where I find the vocals and the guitars struggling against one another.
Dissonance is too strong a word, and struggling isn’t quite strong enough. But the satisfaction that I get from listening to them comes from the resolution, from when more of a melody and regular tempo gets re-introduced.
I feel I’m stumbling a lot here, and not really doing a good job of describing their music. Or even why I like it so much. When Justin emailed this out, he also copied a few other friends as well. I’m really tempted to pick Dave and Kevin’s brains, since as musicians I’m sure they both have some strong thoughts on Shudder To Think… or at the least, might be able to describe their music better than I can.
If you want a listen, check out X-French Tee Shirt. I’m not crazy about the video, but it’ll give you a sense of what their music is like.