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Author: Unknown (O&O Records)
Shiner is a band that rocks like Bukowski reads: pure, unbridled, unashamed, sincere, believable, head-nodding, hypnotic sound that is gritty and beautiful at once. Dark in the middle and brilliant around the edges. Sometimes heavy and slow like syrup, other times driving, fast and light. Always moving. Shiner is not metal, raprock or indierock. They?re not masturbatory calculus rock, poprock, grunge or punkabilly. They are about songs and learning the craft of making great songs. And they are a self-confessed "work in progress". Always should be. Shiner is Josh Newton (g), Paul Malinowski (b), Jason Gerken (d), and Allen Epley (v/g). They are all products of the notoriously incestuous music scene in Kansas City, MO.
Here's what happened when they decided to cut loose. When Shiner released its first record, Splay, on Jawbox's Desoto Records in '95, Allen Epley (v/g), Tim Dow (d) and Shawn Sherrill (b) were a tight, percussively driven three piece playing math rock, a la Bitch Magnet, Slint, and Jawbox. Splay was recorded by Bob Weston at Steve Albini's house in 5 days. What followed were lots of great reviews and even better shows with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Shudder to Think, Girls Against Boys, HUM and, of course, Jawbox.
By the time they released their second record, Lula Divinia, as a split release with Desoto Records and Hitit! Recordings in '97, Shiner had begun to write angular and melodic tunes that somehow always had a hook and a groove, mathy or not. Epley's vocals began to take a larger role in the songs, opening more possibilities. Lula was recorded at CRC in Chicago over a two-week period, and saw Paul Malinowski jump ship from his band in KC, Season to Risk (Sony), and join the ranks of the Shiner camp with founding members Epley and Dow. The addition of Malinowski expanded the sonic width of the band exponentially on ?Lula?, not only as a bassist, but also behind the mixing board. STR replaced Paul with Glazed Baby (Red Decibal) guitarist Josh Newton.
Over the three years since Shiner's last full-length release, much has transpired. Prodigious drummer Tim Dow left the band in early '99, and now plays with ON, Ken Andrews of Failure's latest project. Replacing Tim is Jason Gerken from KC's own Molly McGuire (Epic). Gerken's legend is not of fiction, but a matter of fact. Not only the best drummer in KC, he is a drummer of power, grace, style, and fluidity, and the possessor of the heaviest foot, ever. Ironically, Andrews produced Molly's 2nd CD, Lime. Molly also toured with Failure on Lollapalooza in '98.
Josh Newton came to bat for Shiner in mid '99 as guitarist. Not to make them louder (that's impossible), but to layer textures and conjure weird sounds. Shiner stands in stark contrast to the rigidly ordered chaos of his first band, Glazed Baby from Boston. His lines create moods both digital and organic, rocking and rolling, and make the band much greater than the sum of its parts. He still plays bass with Season to Risk, who have a new disc out on Thick Records.
Allen Epley is the sole original member of Shiner. As the voice and ?seed writer?, he has been lucky enough to find the perfect men to interpret and twist his tunes into Shiner songs.
The music and lyrics have always been a bittersweet marriage of the sad and beautiful, using extended metaphors to conjure the intended emotion. Only now has Allen begun to feel comfortable singing his ass off. Comparisons to Craig Wedren, Jeff Buckley, Eric Matthews, and even Ozzy himself, are generally refuted by Epley, but nevertheless appreciated.
STARLESS is the title of the newest offering from Shiner on Owned & Operated Recordings. They have toured extensively with HUM, Jawbox, June of '44, and The Grifters, and shared the stage with greats like Soul Coughing, Flaming Lips, Helmet and the Jesus Lizard, among many other crazy bands.
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