RIP Steve Albini

RIP Steve Albini

Pitchfork announced that Steve Albini, indie music producer and general gadfly to the music industry, has died of a heart attack at 61 years old. If you were between 13 and 33 years old in the 80s and 90s and dug what was then known as “alternative” music, then he probably had his hand in some of your favorite music from your favorite bands, including from Nirvana, PJ Harvey and the Pixies. He also fronted his own bands, one of which, Shellac, apparently has a new album coming out next week.

I knew Albini extremely tangentially, in that we both hung out on Bluesky and had some back-and-forth there. It was fun to see someone who actually had a significant role in the culture I and others of my generation participated in hanging out, shooting the shit, and making observations both on the music industry and the culture in general. Albini was known to give unvarnished opinions on the industry he worked in (his essay “The Problem With Music” is a classic piece about how the music industry mostly sucked for every band in it), and he was also remarkably self-observant about being a white dude in the culture, what that let him get away with when he was younger, and how he needed to own that past and work on where he was now. These days, that’s not nothing.

So, anyway, this really sucks and as a music lover, I’m sad about this. Also, as someone who chatted him up online a few times and enjoyed his posts otherwise, I’m also sad. As I noted on Bluesky, this is very much like hearing that your neighbor has unexpectedly passed. It’s just that in this case, the neighbor also was a fucking giant in his field. What a legacy he gets to be part of.

— JS

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