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Steve Albini Has Died at 61

Steve Albini
Photo by Tim Bugbee

Legendary engineer and musician Steve Albini has passed away due to a heart attack, according to staff at his Chicago recording studio, Electrical Audio.


Albini was a giant of alternative, independent, and underground rock music for more than three decades. He was celebrated for his abrasive guitar work for the noisy, boundary-pushing Chicago bands Big Black and Shellac, but he was best known for his engineering work on ’80s and ’90s alternative guitar music. He engineered records from Pixies and Nirvana that changed the soundscape of alt-rock, including Surfer Rosa and In Utero, as well as releases by PJ Harvey, Bush, Low, Jawbreaker, Neurosis, Veruca Salt, and countless more.

Albini’s work influenced a new generation of guitarists, who sought him out to build a noisy, raucous 2010s revival of indie-punk and prickly alt-rock. Records from Cloud Nothings, Screaming Females, METZ, Sunn O))), and Chicago’s own Meat Wave bore Albini’s sonic thumbprint: sharp, percussive guitars, pounding rhythm sections, and an aggressive, enormous guitar-forward mix, like a DIY perversion of the polished “Wall of Sound” technique. Last summer, we wrote about the stunning new record from Brooklyn black metal band Liturgy. Albini produced it.

Earlier this year, senior editor Nick Millevoi spoke with Albini for the cover of our April issue, where Albini talked in-depth about his engineering techniques, his gear selection, and how he attains his own guitar sounds. He and Shellac were preparing their first new record in ten years, To All Trains, which is scheduled to release May 17.

In honor of Steve Albini, listen to some loud, weird guitar music today.

On her new record with her trio, Molly Miller executes a live-feeling work of structural harmony that mirrors her busy life.

Photo by Anna Azarov

The accomplished guitarist and teacher’s new record, like her lifestyle, is taut and exciting—no more, and certainly no less, than is needed.

Molly Miller, a self-described “high-energy person,” is fully charged by the crack of dawn. When Ischeduled our interview, she opted for the very first slot available—8:30 a.m.—just before her 10 a.m. tennis match!

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John Mayall in the late ’80s, in a promo shot for his Island Records years. During his carreer, he also recorded for the Decca (with the early Bluesbreakers lineups), Polydor, ABC, DJM, Silvertone, Eagle, and Forty Below labels.

He was dubbed “the father of British blues,” but Mayall’s influence was worldwide, and he nurtured some of the finest guitarists in the genre, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Coco Montoya, and Walter Trout. Mayall died at his California home on Monday, at age 90.

John Mayall’s career spanned nearly 70 years, but it only took his first four albums to cement his legendary status. With his initial releases with his band the Bluesbreakers—1966’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton; ’67’s A Hard Road, with Peter Green on guitar; plus the same year’s Crusade, which showcased Mick Taylor—and his solo debut The Blues Alone, also from 1967, Mayall introduced an international audience of young white fans to the decidedly Black and decidedly American genre called blues. In the subsequent decades, he maintained an active touring and recording schedule until March 26, 2022, when he played his last gig at age 87. It was reported that he died peacefully, on Monday, in his California home, at 90.

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Featuring enhanced amp models, a built-in creative looper, AI-powered tone exploration, and smart jam features.

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Donner andThird Man Hardware’s $99, three-in-one analog distortion, phaser, and delay honors Jack White’s budget gear roots.

Compact. Light. Fun. Dirt cheap. Many cool sounds that make this pedal a viable option for traveling pros.

Phaser level control not much use below 1 o’clock. Repeats are bright for an analog delay. Greater range of low-gain sounds would be nice.

$99

Donner X Third Man Triple Threat
thirdmanrecords.com

3.5
4.5
4.5
5

A huge part of the early White Stripes mystique, sound, ethos, and identity was tied to guitars and amps that, at the time, you could luck into for cheap at a garage sale. These days, it’s harder to score a Crestwood Astral II, or Silvertone Twin Twelve with a part-time job in the ice cream shop. Back in the late ’90s, though, they were a source of raw, nasty sounds for less than a new, more generic guitar or amp.

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