Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


May 13, 2024
Steve Albini (July 22, 1962 - May 7, 2024)

Steve Albini died last week. The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House only learned of his death by chance today. For kids growing up in the Midwest in the 1980's, on whom the appeal of punk rock was not lost, the music of Steve Albini made a profound, life-long impression. We begin this eulogy with a list of ten of our favorite tracks by Albini.

There are already a variety of obituaries on the internet, including ones from the funeral home, The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Quietus & Rolling Stone. We too were not immune to the impact of the Albini's music and his influence. In the 1980's, his presence on Homestead and Touch & Go records lent them instantly credibility. We listened to new records by many bands—Wreck, Slint, The Jesus Lizard, Head of David, Flour—just because Albini was listed on the recording/engineering credits. We kept purchasing the sporadic albums by Shellac decades after we had stopped following any other music of this kind. We have a pre-order out for the forthcoming Shellac album, To All Trains, to be released this Friday.

For those who have forgotten, part of the fabric of punk rock was to challenge societal pretense, to peel away the veneer of propriety, to provoke and to offend. In music, words and deeds, Albini obliged on all counts. He had a band called Rapeman, for which we bought (and wore in public) a t-shirt. We would say that Albini espoused the punk esthetic unapologetically, but, as recounted in the obituaries above, later in life he did apologize for controversies that were reasonably interpreted outside his intended irony or satire. We too have grown older and our sharp edges have been dulled by time, experience and especially failure. We find no betrayal of the principles of punk rock in his apology, only the wisdom of age.

As we relisten to the tracks listed above, we hear the gap between then and now. Not all songs have aged well, but in those of us who embraced that culture for a formative part of our youth, there remains a kernel of the stubborn, defiant punk who found intelligence, wit and a commitment to the individual artistic vision in the music of Steve Albini and now note with regret, one of our number is gone.


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