The Tunnel "Shudder" LP


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With stabs of growling bass, a discordant peal of guitar, and the robotic thump of a floor
tom, Shudder's title track launches into being, setting the stage for frontman Jeff
Wagner's unmistakable voice – a sinister croon, caked in distortion and sleaze.
Bearing traces of such pompadoured antiheroes as Nick Cave, Wagner's dark and
theatrical twang is offset by the band's mechanized throb. These two energies – the
sultry noir and the cold machinery – grind against each other and create the sparks that
are The Tunnel.
The glorious clash of styles can be depicted in many ways. A 2020 review from White
Light/White Heat saw it as a mix of "seedy primeval swampy muddy groove" and
"industrialized noise racket" and dropped a flurry of names, from The Birthday
Party to Big Black.
A line might also be drawn to a certain circle of '90s indie rockers – Girls Against
Boys, Six Finger Satellite, and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion among them –
whose noise rock assaults were laced to varying degrees with young-Elvis swagger,
representing a similar marriage of heat and cool.
To describe it in cinematic terms, it might be film noir and cyberpunk projected onto the
same screen. Indeed, the band counts directors like Lynch and Cronenberg amongst
its greatest influences.
In a review on his Head Heritage site, the great Julian Cope stated, simply, "These
guys is motherfuckers, no less."
Wagner puts it like this: "I see our music as a hot-wired transformer in a dead dark city.
The dystopian future is now."
Shudder is the prolific San Francisco band's seventh full-length album, amidst various
other EPs, splits, and tracks on comps. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by the band
itself, Shudder is an absolutely perfect expression of its makers' well-honed vision. Over
ten tracks, the band – Wagner, flanked by bassist Sam Black and drummer Michael
Jacobs – slinks and slithers from the shotgun shack to the dark alley and back again,
evoking a fantasy where macabre backwoods gloom unites with dystopian urban decay.

While some of the inspiration flows from the songs and films of the aforementioned
artists, the band's hometown provided the rest.
"San Francisco is a shithole right now and I’m not super confident that it will ever
recover," laments Black.
"I think the last few years’ apocalyptic vibe only sharpened our music’s sense of struggle
and pleasure in the face of grim paranoia," says Wagner.
Jacobs gives a more optimistic view: "I have lived here all my life and seen a lot of
change. The musical history is undeniable. I am hopeful that the spirit still remains, but
the demographics have shifted. I am inspired to see clubs that I used to go to decades
ago, rising from the dead, and it seems like a new DIY underground scene is emerging."
The Tunnel will be performing at this year's Caterwaul Festival, May 27-30 in
Minneapolis, alongside Cherubs, Whores., and dozens more. The fest is curated by
none other than Learning Curve Records owner Rainer Fronz. Stand by for news of
more upcoming shows.
1) Deathray
2) Frontage
3) Shudder
4) Tungsten
5) Hangman
6) Subductress
7) Racknid
8) Daybreak
9) Zealot
10) Uneasy
Jeff Wagner - vocals, guitar
Sam Black - bass
Michael Jacobs - drums
Shudder - 2023, Learning Curve Records
Noise for Change Equal Rights Amendment Benefit - 2022, Learning Curve Records
A Growing Scarcity of Expectation Compilation - 2021, Destroy//Exist
Condemned/Collapse EP - 2020, self-released
Shapeshifter - 2020, Forbidden Place Records
The Tunnel/Thought Leaders split - 2020, King of Sticks Recording Cooperative
Quarantimes Vol. 2 Benefit - 2020, Learning Curve Records
Nightfall EP - 2019, self-released
Plasma Den/Overland EP - 2017, Glorious Alchemical

Six Curses of the Blackout Witchcave - 2017, Glorious Alchemical
Apparition Overdrive - 2015, Glorious Alchemical
Sultry Daggers - 2012, Glorious Alchemical
Fathoms Deep - 2011, Glorious Alchemical
Carver Brothers Lullaby - 2009, Glorious Alchemical

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