The Shell Corporation - Bread And Circuses [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Shell Corporation

Bread And Circuses [7-inch] (2011)

EFM REcords

The same year that Burbank, California’s The Shell Corporation released their debut full-length, Force Majeure they also released the Bread And Circuses single as well. Obviously this 7-inch has the song “Bread And Circuses” on the A-side, but it also has “What if?” on the B-side – both of which appear on the album.

If you are looking to get into this band, this would be a pretty good place to start because it shows a couple different sides of the band’s sound. The track “Bread and Circuses” is more on the experimental side. The verses are made of up this slow, echo-y guitar effect that carries most of the song along with an ominous, rolling bass line. But once the chorus kicks in the rhythm speeds up and the echo guitar effect is dropped. Even the vocalists get louder and more confrontational. And for the most part, the song switches back and forth between these two sections. “What If?” is a much more musically straightforward, melodic punk tune. Arguably, it is the most representative of The Shell Corporation’s overall sound than “Bread And Circuses.” It is much more aggressive vocally and instrumentally. It has a fantastic guitar hook that quickly switch form the chords to a higher string-based riff, while the lead vocalist powerfully yells the lyrics. “What If?” also has a very anthemic chorus – something else you’ll find quite a bit of in the band’s catalogue. This particular one though showcases the singers’ ability to harmonize, but maintain a sense of anger and urgency in their voices.

What “Bread and Circuses” and “What If?” do have in common is that they both have lyrics that are filled with political and socio-economic commentary, which if you couldn’t tell just by the band’s name is another characteristic you’ll find in their records. “Bread And Circuses” has lines like, “Distracted, clambering masses/Demanding bread and circuses/And eating right out of their hand” and a particularly good line you hear in “What If?” is something such as, “Will you give up and cry?/Will you curl up and die?/When the shit hits the fan/Will you run or take your stand?”

Again, if you are looking for a place to start with this band, this 7-inch is a nice jumping off point. The Shell Corporation is a band that really tries to expand its sound especially on their full-lengths, but these are two songs that represent their material pretty well. If you haven’t heard this band before and you are into melodic punk rock with a political message, check out The Shell Corporation.