1. Echelons
  2. In the Marshes
  3. December
  4. Aperture
  5. Mason's California Lunch Room
  6. Shelf Life
  7. Coalesced
  8. Shade Side Sunny Side
  9. Never Been
  10. Black Soap


In the Marshes



Mason's California Lunch Room

Shelf Life

1. Randy LeMaster, Randy's Alternative Music, 1997-10-05

NEWS FLASH!!! On their new cd SHELFLIFE For Against HAVE NOT gone Electronica!!! NO drum and bass, no lo-fi slacker sounds, no dance remixes...same old For Against. THANK GOD! SHELFLIFE is further refinement and progression of the sound only For Against can make so very well here at the dawn of a new millennium. Writer/singer/ bassist Jeffrey Runnings continues to be the master of capturing deep emotion in song.

Where many songwriters seem content to only scratch the surface, Jeff has always excelled at exploring the darkness AND the beauty of the innermost feelings everyone has. Loneliness, vulnerability, alienation, melancholy and insecurity NEVER sounded so great!

As with all their previous releases SHELFLIFE is a bonafide modern classic start to finish. I've had the benefit of living inside this music for more than a year now (the cd was recorded in only a few days during January of 1996) and I can say that after a couple hundred listens I still find new subtleties and nuances I'd previously missed.

"Truck stop summertime, going out of my mind..." --- yet another killer opening cut in "Shadow." Guitarist Mave Hinrichs and drummer Paul Engelhard play fast and tight while Jeff's gorgeous vocal soars over the top! For Against know how to kick an album immediately into high gear! Thoughts of summer drift into colder weather with "Wintersong", featuring the classic Runnings lines "You don't know who you are. You don't know what you do. You don't know, you don't care, that's why I love you." Brilliant!

The cd has so many moments of bittersweet beauty, passion and pain...

  • "Profile" -- "I used to have a dream. I used to have a plan. But now I don't even know who I am."
  • "Lost" -- "Doing what I do best: Going nowhere."
  • "Lilacs" -- "When I decide it's finally time to get a life"

Jeff's deeply personal lyrics and lovely vocals intertwined with Mave's seemless, otherworldly, all enveloping guitar playing create a sound as sweet as precious life itself. And oh yeah, they ROCK OUT on "Harbor" and "Forever"! The cd closes with For Against's first ever released cover versions, "Times Square Go Go Boy" and "Seascape". Of course, the band makes the songs their own. "Times Square" (East River Pipe) breezily flows along as refreshing as cool air on a sticky August night, while "Seascape" (Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl) sounds as if it was written specifically for the band! The original version was a beautiful little song on a very good album (A Distant Shore), but the For Against version is a sparkling gem on what may be the band's best album to date!

Buy a copy or two of "Shelflife" and give them to your friends and relatives that have yet to discover the pure beauty that is For Against. This band has been a national treasure for a good 12 years now. It's about time the rest of civilization wakes up and discovers the passion of the heart and soul that is known as For Against.


  • The Big Takeover (issue #41) - #3 in Jack's Top 40
  • All Music Guide - "...slightly more intricate, subtle, and mellow than on anything they've done before... proves that For Against can play the slowcore game just as well as the subgenre's better-known outfits." (3/5)
  • PitchForkMedia - "...a modest record, slight and pretty... moments of pop euphoria... If For Against can be faulted for anything, it's that their sound is a bit monochromatic [but] the one song that they know how to play is a really good one." (6.7/10)


Shade Side Sunny Side