SHELLSHAG - 18 Sycamore (2XLP)
This is 18 Sycamore, by Brooklyn's definitive DIY duo, Shellshag. Released on their personal long-running Starcleaner Records label, which I believe is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, 18 Sycamore is a double LP. Think of it as DIY's Speakerboxxx/the Love Below, in which each member of a storied duo takes a disc and makes it their own.
Made to accompany their film of the same name, this is inherently a very touching album, telling the story of their shared musical journey through these songs and stitched together footage of them and their friends through the years. Even for a someone like myself who wasn't around for those early days, it's incredibly difficult not to tear up hearing these songs, and seeing the film. Like everything involving them I've ever encountered, the love for the music and for each other is so pervasive that you can't help but to be moved. One of the best indications of an artist's character, in my opinion, is the people they associate with and their relationship to the successive waves of musicians that start after them.
By this measure, Shellshag are some of the finest folks you'll meet. I actually first heard Shellshag on their split with This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, and would continue to run into them in conversation with figures like Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females. Furthermore, even having moved out of the city, I got to see them several times in the past year, as they toured with AJJ and Kimya Dawson, as well as joining Sean Bonnette for his solo shows this past March.
Their live show is something not to be missed. Shell on guitar, Shag on drums, with their fabled Pyramid of Sound custom built by Shellhead himself. I'll be in Brooklyn next Friday, partially fried for the prior night's Bridge City Sinners show, but ready for a glorious hometown Shellshag performance. It should be known that there's no greater live experience than seeing an artist on their home turf, and that sentiment is amplified with these two.
- Luke @folkpunkacvtivist
A WORD FROM THE BAND:
18 Sycamore is our personal diary in sound and image. Limited 2LP’s and VHS tapes were produced by us so you can see it here too: shellshag.com It’s much of our life story together, from previously unseen home movies, accompanied by our personal audio recordings as the soundtrack, that were born during the earliest incarnation of what was to later to become known as shellshag.
This creative process was to deliberately put our very long loving and enduring, yet of course also painful and tumultuous past to rest. For good.
This record is comprised of recordings we made together and alone, for each other, with random cassette tape decks, karaoke machines, reel to reels, and 4 tracks in the 90s. This is our music at it’s most vulnerable and primitive yet pivotal stage.This time period has had a massive impact on who we are now. We made this album and film for ourselves to reflect on. To learn from our past and preserve it.
The footage is from our bedrooms, homes and tours in the US, Japan and UK. Shot on 8mm videotape, pixel vision and VHS camcorders in 1995 thru 2010. We let our tapes roll in chronological order, digitized them, best we could, without any bias or obsessing on the prettiest images and or people and friends in particular at all while editing. It’s very abstract and intimate. In fact if you are reading this, you are probably in it. So look for yourself if we crossed paths back then. We should also mention, that many people in this film are dead now unfortunately. So trigger warning if you where there, because this movie also turned into a way of paying homage to them if they suddenly appeared on a tape. This occurred to us while editing and cathartically crying.
We are proud of our humble beginnings but much more excited to change and expand creatively. Freely, without carrying quite so much baggage and expectations from our past in tow. This process reminded us that our creative expression and output, does not have to be perfect, or better than the previous release if you will, to still matter very very deeply to us.
We hope 18 Sycamore brings you the satisfaction and insight to break down any walls or barriers that may confine you in your art and expression, as it has for us. 18 Sycamore is “ars gratia artis” which means art for art’s sake.
Named after the house we lived in when we met that was once home to The Residents and many other incredible artists before us. Thank you for listening and for letting us be ourselves entirely without compromise.
01. Music Box
02. I Write the Song
03. Little Miss Special
04. Here Come the Fans
05. Waiting by the Line
06. Albert Payson Terhune
07. Coo Coo
08. Biggest Wish
09. She Smiles
15. Dog vs. Butterfly
16. Dumb Room
18. I’ll See You Later
20. You Are So Beautiful
22. Yes, I’m Still Thinking of You
23. Round the Block
24. I Know
25. Pritty Ditty
26. Yes, I’m Still ...
• Includes Download