Evolution is just a theory, Allen Epley quips cryptically at the beginning of Shiner’s just-reissued 1999 EP, Making Love. Musically speaking, though, this recording provides evidence in favor of evolution. Making Love opens with four live tracks, split evenly between Shiner’s first two full-lengths, Splay and Lula Divinia. Several of Shiner’s signature elements —eerie, swirling guitars; Epley’s hazily tuneful delivery; portentous drumming — have remained constant throughout its career, but these songs contain traits particular to the band’s nascent years: heavy riffs, shouted outbursts and complex polyrhythms. “Making Love,” an ominously tranquil, dirge-paced version of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love,” introduces Shiner’s final incarnation, with Epley’s vocals remaining calm during the surging choruses and the guitarists playing complementary experimental parts rather than collaborating on heavy grooves. It’s rare for a group to use a cover song as a vehicle to announce its new direction, but Shiner did so while also documenting the calculated explosiveness of its early performances, all on a brief release that’s been mercifully rescued from footnote status.

Categories: Music