Since the early 1990s, Shrimper Records and Tapes has persisted as a hub for lo-fi, home recorded music from beloved artists like The Mountain Goats, Lou Barlow and Woods. From his home in Upland, California, Shrimper founder Dennis Callaci has perpetually operated the label on his own terms, watching trends come and go and remaining timeless in the process.
That approach continues on So Long To Farewell, the 12th studio album from Callaci’s equally long-running project Refrigerator. Across 14 sprawling songs, the band is joined by guests including legendary soul singer Claudia Lennear, Mountain Goats collaborator Franklin Bruno and guitarist Mark Givens of WCKR SPGT. Expanded to a quintet, the rebooted Refrigerator bristles with a live energy that has been sorely missed during our pandemic purgatory.
With Vaselines-esque guitar crunch and call-and-response vocals, the depressive lyrical material of album standout “Drink Ourselves To Death” is transformed into a ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll anthem. Callaci provides more insight into its creation, with a surprising reference to late ‘80s KISS.
“Like much of the new Refrigerator, this song was improvised and written in the morning, then recorded that afternoon,” Callaci said. “It could have been a teary eyed ballad, but the sorrow and sadness of the lyrics hopefully gets lost in the force of the two minutes of live to tape bleed of the band. You know, like ‘Let’s Put The X in Sex.’ That song is equally forlorn and downtrodden lyrically, but something about that Bruce Kulick lead brightens up the ennui. Deedle-deedle-deedle-whee up high on that fretboard, weeeee.”
Refrigerator’s So Long To Farewell is out May 15 on Shrimper Records. Preorders of the regular edition LP and deluxe colored vinyl LP with bonus CD and Bamboo Dart Press book are available from Revolver USA and Grapefruit Distribution.