So I've been listening to these guys all morning, and I just gotta say, they're freakin' amazing. Hailing from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, The Shackeltons are a new-wave/indie-rock band with an amazing sound that seems to blend Cage the Elephant with Silversun Pickups. Fitting, it seems then, that they're touring with Cage the Elephant. I got way psyched, though, when I saw they were coming to Atlanta this Saturday. There's no way I'm missing seeing these guys live, especially if Cage the Elephant's gonna be there too.
Made up of Mark Redding (vocals), Eric Fisak (guitar), Ryan Egolf (guitar), Justin McDaniel (bass), and Sean Hallock (drums), The Shackeltons bring a soul-ish funk to their new-wave numbers, and as they expand on the indie-rock sound, I'm floored that these guys have a sound that's so different. I see on their Myspace that they've recieved rave comments by the Seattle Times and Rolling Stone, but unfortunately I just don't trust big name magazines and papers to talk about what's really important. So here I am, and four track reviews later, you'll know all you need to know about The Shackeltons.
I start with "Get Out," a clearly indie-rock/blues-rock-influenced track that takes away any wonder I might have as to why these guys are touring with CTE. Fisak's and Egolf's guitars are distorted pleasures to my ears, blending new-wave/indie-rock with blues rhythms and garage-rock beats. Hallock's drums are crazy here, reaching John Bonham-like levels, and as McDaniel's bass just keeps pumping and pumping, I'm reminded of John Entwhistle by his style. Above it all are Redding's frenzied blues-rock/funk vocals. I can't decide whether he's singing or screaming, or a mixture of both, but the bottom line is that I love it, and whatever he's doing, he's doing it right.
Song number two for me is "Emergency," an easy-starting song that rides on Fisak's melodic guitar progression as Egolf's lays down a rhythm track. One thing I love though, is the way Redding speaks the vocals at the beginning of the song. I'm reminded of a Johnny Cash/Jim Morrison sound, where Redding here is trying to get something deeper out of the lyrics. Trying to push the poetry through to the audience, and I love it. Among it all is McDaniel's bass, softly keeping time in the background as Hallock's drums are slow, almost lazy, but still managing to find the snare and cymbals at the right times. Definitely a new-wave-inspired track, and I'm almost tempted to label this track at least as shoegaze-alternative. It reminds me a little bit of Smashing Pumpkins through the lazy beat and heart-felt, poetic vocals. And with everything speeding up towards the end, it's definitely one of the must-hear songs on the album.
Then I move to "Yellow Cadillac," a melancholy-esque song that starts, like the previous, on a few slow guitar notes. But then McDaniel and Hallock crash in together, and with Hallock's movements on the snare and toms, it slowly builds into an amazing speed, with Egolf laying down a rhythm and Fisak following suit. Redding's vocals here, too, at more poetic, less sing-songy, and with this music, I wouldn't have it any other way. They fit brilliantly, and his voice is just raspy enough to grab my attention without alienating me with roars. I love the stop-start tempo of the song, making use of the Pixies quiet-loud dynamic, and the great, melodic guitar riff towards the end doesn't hurt either. Brilliant song.
The last track I listen to is "Madeline," and from second one, it starts with a fantastic bass line from McDaniel. Then Hallock builds in on the kit, and Fisak and Egolf lay down perfectly synched guitars to provide Redding with a stage for his harsh, new-wave/indie vocals. What I love most about this track, besides the catchy guitar riffing, is the incredible ambiance it exudes. It just feels like you're falling into the music, and that's something that will take a song right to the top if it can do it right. A solid finish to what promises to be a fantastic album.
Sounds Like: Silversun Pickups, Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies, Cage the Elephant
Key Tracks from The Shackeltons: "Emergency," "Get Out," "Yellow Cadillac," "Madeline"