Media Condition: M
Sleeve Condition: M
Genre: Rock, Pop, Power pop
Notes: Updated version of 2014 release. Improved audio. Includes 12"x36" double sided insert and Shivvers bumper sticker. Initial pressing of 1000 copies, repressed in October 2020.
If you like: the power pop of The Raspberries and Shoes married with The Pretenders’ new wave sensibility, meet Milwaukee’s The Shivvers.
About: The roots of Milwaukee power pop outfit the Shivvers lie in In a Hot Coma, one of a series of local bands pairing bassist Scott Krueger and drummer Jim Richardson–Krueger’s girlfriend, aspiring singer/songwriter Jill Kossoris, also played keyboards with the group in its final months. After In a Hot Coma split in 1978, Krueger formed The Orbits while Richardson signed on with local punk unit The Lubricants–meanwhile, Kossoris teamed with guitarist Mike Pyle to form The Shivvers, and when their respective bands dissolved, Krueger and Richardson joined the lineup as well. Guitarist Jim Eannelli completed the Shivvers’ roster, which honed a repertoire of pop classics both familiar and obscure–Kossoris’ originals rounded out the set list, and the group soon entered the studio to record her “Teen Line,” issued on the Fliptop label in 1980. In addition to gigs in support of The Romantics and Iggy Pop, the Shivvers earned the endorsement of one of their heroes, ex-Raspberries frontman Eric Carmen, who even expressed his desire to produce their planned LP. After Eannelli resigned, former Orbits guitarist Breck Burns signed on in time for readers of the Milwaukee Journal to name The Shivvers the city’s best band of 1982–at this point the group began mulling a move to a larger market like New York or Los Angeles, ultimately settling on Boston instead. After a handful of final hometown gigs, Pyle and Richardson packed up and relocated, but Kossoris began suffering health issues, and after Krueger opted to enlist with L.A. combo The Wigs, the Shivvers disbanded.*via Jason Ankeny
Why it’s worth your time: Romanticizing life, I imagine, had become somewhat of a survival skill in the midst of the disillusionment of post-Vietnam late ‘70s and early ‘80s America–much like in the bitter era that seems to be looming over us–and perhaps even moreso a palpable characteristic in midwestern youth. Precisely because in a place where there is incessantly “nothing to do,” therein lies a perfect opportunity for wanting to believe that what we do have is extraordinary–and from dull circumstance, creative brilliance is emergent. Not many places offer such a specific landscape outside of the midwest or offer a coexistent sense of having all the time in the world and no time at all. Stuck somewhere between rural traditions and semi-urban promises, a blanketed feeling of inadequacy becomes a motivator to do something greater, to restore youthful hope–and when it’s not present at all, to fabricate it. I think that’s why so many great bands start and end up here–out of sheer necessity–and that comes with an earned paradoxical, soft-edged grit. It’s not difficult to hear that coursing through The Shivvers.
That being said, to draw comparisons to Blondie-era Blondie here (as done countless of times) would be doing The Shivvers a disservice. The Shivvers amalgamated power pop with midwestern grit, rooted in a charming and soulful honesty and that which could appear as naïve optimism–though in actuallity it wasn’t naïve, it was genuine romanticism birthed from circumstance–and it was a far cry from any New York tall tales of tarnished glamour. The Shivvers is a masterpiece, deserving of its cult status, but even moreso deserving of commercial success at the time of its conception. Unfortunately we can’t return to that time–even though the midwest feels exactly the same today and the music feels timeless. But maybe we can find solace in its belated 2014 release, in the fact that it was released at all–and within a new era of disillusionment when we really need it to teach us to hold onto some of that midwestern grit wherever we may be.
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