Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shaky at First, Settles Smooth


This fivesome from Portland, with an apparent disposition to keeping their hands still, have put their nervous twitches to good use on their debut album; its their direction that could use some settling.

When the first few chords of Whale Sings drop, an exploration into the likes of art rock raised on the promises of Brit Pop is to be expected. However, just shy of a minute into the song the listener is introduced to the alt country strumming of guitar that stays out of place until the second have of the album. Although the album stumbles out of the gates, it does manage to hit its stride a few times in its sloppy start before taking off to a full gallop with closing sprint.

The Sleepless plays like a Destroyer song sung by the Pixies, and although not quite fulfilling its intention the track lends itself to where things are headed with its infectious hooks and instantly relatable lyrics.

The albums single, Why & How Come, is presented like a late Pavement tune, but falls well short of such company. The influence of such contemporaries as CYHSY is most evident on this track, a foray possibly best left alone for the already Shaky.

The next two tracks keep pace with the Indie Pop theme yet play shallow for me. Its at the divide of Another World Pt.1 to Another World Pt. 2 that the album takes shape and comes alive; or if you like hits that galloping stride. One would have to believe that it is the intention of this mid album split to present two sides to the bands sound. Given the choice, I’d take the later half.

Another World Pt. 2 pays immediate homage to Zeppelin circa the acoustical sounds of III with a hint of the Beatles' Norwegian Wood(This Bird Has Flown). In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a straight rip off, but I love the classics, some I’ll let it slide.

I’m Alive gives us Nicholas Delffs at his most relaxed vocally yet most tense lyrically. “And I’m alive once, once again; When you take your knife off, off my skin,” is delivered in such a singsing pop manner it slices deep as it brings front a troubled emotional side hidden throughout most the album.

Whirling Wind belts out the bands best Bright Eyes/Ryan Adams impersonation while Hold It Up sounds like what the Strokes would crank out if they dug early Wilco.

The strongest song closes the album, Summer’s Life, and oddly yet fittingly is the most distant to the sounds of Whale Sings (no way this was done on purpose, that’d just be nuts). This gives us the most stripped down sound of the whole album while bringing us the most predominate percussion at the same time.

When this first go round for the boys from Oregon shakes itself out and comes to a rest the resounding echo is quite nice. The band’s MySpace page lists the group to “Sound Like: Organized Sound.” Although not completely untrue, it’s more the arrangement of the songs on the album that comes across as organized and not so much the true sound of the band itself. The Shaky Hands won’t make any top 10 lists but it will get plenty of time on my iPod.

Rating: 6.9


The Shaky Hands: Why & How Come

The Shaky Hands: Summer's Life

No comments: