Before I go any further, these tracks were admittedly made available on another site several years ago, and while the page still exists in cyberspace the link to the actual songs has been seemingly eviscerated with no promise of return.
Shudder to Think. Where do I begin? I can either start with the mix tape a friend made me while I was still in grade school that included some gnarlier than gnarly, well chosen tunes from the band's first couple of Dischord Records LPs. An equally vivid impression cemented it's way into my noggin the first time I heard Shudder on the radio, circa 1992 by way of "Shake Your Halo" down from the newly released Get Your Goat. Yes, there something about hearing a lyric that references a fish being scrunched into a tattoo gun that really leaves an indelible mark. From these moments on I was irrevocably hooked on Craig Wedren and Co. for largely the remainder of the decade. I never looked back, but then again why would I want to?
Regarding that aforementioned lyric, the band wasn't always so gratuitously surreal. That phase in their career didn't peak until the early '90s. In fact, they boasted a decent wardrobe of songs dating back to the Reagan era, starting with the batch of selections featured here. As artful and left of center as they would ultimately reveal themselves to be on Get Your Goat and even 1994's major label sanctioned Pony Express Record, STT were still a fairly suitable match for the Dischord crowd, albeit hardcore punk could barely be traced in their bloodline. Pop punk was another story. Unlike the Descendents or even Dag Nasty, Shudder's concerns weren't linear nor did they extrapolate much in the arenas of suburban angst and scene politics - but an immensely strong melodic undercurrent was right there from day one. If anything they dipped there toes in the Misfits sonic cauldron when it came to doling out hooks, and it's hard to argue the imagery laid out in "It Was Arson" and "Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall" didn't at least border on the macabre.
Some of these songs would be re-recorded for the subsequently released It Was Arson 7" ep in 1988, and the outright wonderful Spells, Curses, Voodoo, Mooses full length a year later. To my knowledge, a handful of these songs (incl. "Believable," "Cloak of Wine" and "Cure Song") never gestated past the demo stage. The audio quality is what it is, and the pitch could even be off a tad, but for Shudder fans this set is a grail-like find. A big thanks to whomever went to trouble of digitizing this. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Head Medicine blog did a nice multi-installment feature on the band that's worth a read.
02. Take the Child
03. Abysmal Yellow Popcorn Wall
05. It Was Arson
07. Cloak of Wine
08. Thou Shalt Not Kill
10. Cure Song
11. Too Little Too Late
12. Let it Ring
13. I Grow Cold