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Author: Unknown (Epitonic)
In the four and a half years that Shiner have been around, the alt-rock supply has easily outstripped the market's demand. "Powerful, melodic and intense" flavors-of-the-month are a dime a dozen, and the mainstream has begun its inevitable swing back toward pedestrian hard-rock and MOR singer-songwriters. So in the midst of such dreck, why do we continue to find this Kansas City trio so compelling? Because, simply, they are one of the few reasons we have to believe that music can still make the spine tingle and the pulse race without the staged theatrics of the MTV mosh pit. Shiner is a band happiest in the no-man's-land between the gimmicky indie rock clubhouse and the mainstream strip mall, content to hammer away at their own twist on rock and in the process create some truly beautiful, difficult and affecting music.
Yet Shiner doesn't spare power, melody or intensity simply for the sake of being exceptional. Their debut LP/CD Splay (DeSoto) demonstrated to full effect what their first single hinted at: three people can certainly make a lot of beautiful noise. From the straightforward punk of "Brooks" and "Martyr" to the delicate balance of guitar and voice of "Bended Knee" and "Fetch a Switch", Shiner made evident on Splay just why a journalist would write that "'Power trio' does not do these guys justice by any means."
On Lula Divinia, Shiner continues to confound listeners who can't fathom how so much sound can come out of so few people. Lula Divinia picks up right where Splay left off, expanding the band's scope and sound into new dimensions. From the opening drumroll and dreamy-clean electrics of "The Situationist" to the thunderous, fade-out climax of the closer,"Cake", the band finally achieves what they've been driving at for their entire history: pure sonic dimension. Lula Divinia stretches Allen Epley's acoustics, electrics and subtle vocal melodies and harmonies, Paul Malinowski's effected, fluid basslines and Tim Dow's dense, complex drumming all the way across the mix and down into the bottom of the stereo. The album was recorded and mixed in Chicago and Kansas City during the summer of '96, and the extraordinary length of time they took putting the record together pays off in its accomplished playing, its intricate mix, and ultimately, its excellent composition.
The band formed in the spring of 1993 when Allen Epley (guitar and voice) and original bassist Shawn Sherrill began writing songs together in a Kansas City warehouse. After splitting from local favorites Season to Risk, drummer Tim Dow completed Shiner's first lineup. The trio gigged extensively throughout the Midwest on the strength of their nine-song demo, until DeSoto picked them up for a single in November of '94. Later that year, Hit It! Records released a split single with Kansas City's Molly McGuire. The tremendous response to both seven inches prompted DeSoto to release the band's first full-length in April of '95. Shiner finished up '95 with a two-song single for Hit It!, which turned out to be Sherrill's final recording with the group.
Lula Divinia is the first recording featuring new bassist, Paul Malinowski. Paul, like Tim, is an alumnus of Season to Risk, where he provided the low end for years before joining Shiner in February '96. 1997 saw even more growth for Shiner with another hundred plus shows, loads of great press and a seven-inch single for Sub Pop Records that was released near the end of the year.
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