A lot of people aren’t necessarily where they want to be in life. They haven’t yet found the right person. Maybe the job they have doesn’t leave them enough time to do what they really love. Maybe they just haven’t yet figured out what it is they really love. Other people are lucky. They’ve found what they love, and they’re doing it exactly the way they want to do it. John “Shellhead” Driver and Jennifer Shagawat sound like they may be two of the lucky ones.
The duo have been a couple and have been performing together as Shellshag since the late 1990s. Even the title of their fourth LP, Shellshag Forever, lets you know exactly how they feel about the project and about each other. It’s possible that this compact collection of lo-fi punk pop even contains some hints as to the secret of Shellshag’s contentment.
“I’d rather go one on one / I think it’ll be more fun,” sings the gravelly-voiced Driver on album-opener “Face to Face.” “We’ll go walking / You’ll get to talking / The sun will be glistening / You’ll know I’m listening.” An old sweatshirt brings back memories of “the time we walked a mile / to play that show out in the sunset” on “Sweet Hoodie.” Shagawat sings lead on “I Love You Anyway,” telling someone who isn’t always the most fun to live with that, “I wanna paint this town your favorite color.”
Musically, the arrangements are simple: Driver on guitar and vocals, Shagawat on drums and vocals. The longest song on the record, “Driving Song” with its warning to those who’d “want to crush all the mountains / carry the dirt to the sea,” is just over three minutes long. The album itself is less than thirty. The simple combination of electric guitar, drums, and two unique voices, though, makes for some extremely catchy songs.
So what do we learn from Shellshag? Listen to people. Remember the good times you share with your loved ones. Be there for people, even when they may not be that easy to be around. Keep things simple.
Sounds easy enough, but I imagine that it may take quite a bit of work in reality. It’s worth it, though, if it ultimately allows us to feel — like Shellshag on “Forever” — that “this is what we were meant to do forever.”
Shellshag Forever is out now on Don Giovanni Records (a label having a fantastic year, by the way). The band will be playing a sold-out record release show at Maxwell’s on April 20th with help from Screaming Females, Hilly Eye, Swearin’, and Great Thunder.