Record Review - 1 February 03 2001

As June of 44 began drifting away from its Louisville-inspired post-rock roots with albums such as Four Great Points and Annahata, it started to became apparent that for guitarist/vocalist Jeff Mueller, home is where the heart is. That's because, since 1996, he's been moonlighting as a member of Shipping News, along with Rachel's drummer Kyle Crabtree and Metroshifter bassist Jason Noble. Since Shipping News' first appearance on a split CD with Metroshifter — and a full-length entitled Save Everything — the trio has forged a sound that recalls the stark and unyielding mathematics of such prolific Louisville acts as Slint and Rodan; the latter of which both Mueller and Noble were members.
The group's second full-length release, Very Soon and in Pleasant Company, adds an element of maturity to its approach. Throughout the recording, tracks such as "The March Song" and "Nine Bodies, Nine States" maintain a sense of angular rock, while "Simple Halo" and "Contents of a Landfill" shed the guitar-driven uneasiness for which the group has come to be known. "Actual Blood" and "How to Draw Horses" give rise to a murky minimalism that permeates the album with a sense moodiness and melancholy.
As a whole, the album is a collection of intensely personal songs that document musicianship transcending the tumultuous waters of its past to afford a more introspective approach. Very Soon and in Pleasant Company may not be as rigid as its predecessors, but it is nonetheless a work of unmistakable human sentiment bent on discipline.
Shipping News play Eyedrum, Sat., Feb. 3.