The Shipping News has often seemed like just another side project for Jason Noble and Jeff Mueller, who raged in the early ’90s as members of Louisville’s Rodan and went on to be principals in the high-profile indie rock outfits Rachel’s and June Of 44, respectively.
But on the group’s second album, “Very Soon, And In Pleasant Company,” the Shipping News transcends its members’ pasts, arriving at something new without losing sight of the qualities that made their older material rewarding. The seven tracks excel at dynamic instrumental interplay between Noble, Mueller, and drummer Kyle Crabtree, at times harsh and angular (“The March Song”), at others contemplative and reserved (“Actual Blood”). Sometimes you get both in the course of one long track (“Quiet Victories”).
And although Noble and Mueller have usually preferred shouting/screaming to actual singing, the vocal material here stands up fairly well against the more riff-oriented stuff. “Contents Of A Landfill” is a good example, spending its first four minutes on a sad, sung section before giving way to a swelling, vibe-tinged finale.
Coming from Noble and Mueller, who crafted some of the last decade’s most compelling independent music, “Very Soon, And In Pleasant Company” is definitely a worthy addition to their pantheon’