Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake have teamed up to make “Modern Surf Classics” that pays tribute to classic surf rock albums by offering up modern takes in the form of 13 original tracks.
I don’t think I had ever really thought about it before, but placing the Blind Shake into the realm of surf-rock actually makes a whole lot of sense. Their brand of hyper-energetic, stomping, stuttering garage-rock isn’t that far removed. Their liberal use of reverb and scordatura places them, at the very least, in the same timbral category.
“Brown Room” starts off acoustically, but it isn’t long before the reverbed lead line comes in, moving through a few short riffs that cruise along at a relaxed pace. If you are familiar with Real Estate’s first album you’ll appreciate the sound that they’re going for here. The video complements the track nicely with that haze of nostalgia on the surface of every frame, dulled colors and slight blur accenting footage of surfers taking to the waves.
It would be remiss of me to not mention the great Picardy Third that closes out the track. It’s a nice touch.
“Modern Surf Classics” is set for release on January 27, 2015. The album can be pre-ordered right now, and will be made available on CD/LP/MP3 and FLAC formats.
Here comes another dose of aggressive, detuned raw post-punk energy. Stumbled across this one while bumming around Soundcloud and it really grabbed my attention.
My knee-jerk reaction whenever I hear a band that extends what it means to use the guitar as an instrument, where they realize that it is so much more than just the notes, that it’s about everything else, is “Sonic Youth.” The tone, the slack-stringed jangle with harmonics that ring out alternately with a wall of inescapable noise. But really after about two seconds my thoughts quickly turned away from my beloved Sonic Youth and towards something more like Wire.
“I Need a Bag” starts us off with incessant guitar abuse; bashing the daylights out of the strings so much that the pitch bends. But, in addition to the overall “Wire-ness” there is something about the abrupt vocal delivery that calls to mind The Blind Shake. Definitely a good thing.
Then we come to the even noisier “Bring Dumpster Back” and “Trollin the Lake.” The latter of these starts with some calm–relatively calm–though somewhat unsettling ambience. A few stray notes here and there, a few open strings before suddenly everything explodes in a fiery ball of aggression in the form of dissonance in every aspect imaginable. This is pretty much the stuff that I live for. Polvo-like guitar tunings, early Sonic Youth’s energy, up front and bordering upon hostile vocals. Really great stuff.
Of course, check out the tracks above, or head over to the soundcloud page to hear them and other fantastic stuff from S.S. Records. This is the band’s 2nd full-length, and if you want one you had better act fast because it seems that S.S. can’t keep these things on the shelf very long. Their first LP has already burned through a couple of pressings. “Rodeo Songs” is available on vinyl right now.
And below you can check out the official video for “Yawn Factory” from the band’s first album. There’s also some really greatfootage of them live online as well.
There is a direct connection between my love for Thee Oh Sees and my love for The Blind Shake. I’ve talked about it before, the first time that I saw both bands at the Empty Bottle in Chicago in July of 2012.
Since that time I have kept going back to their album “Seriousness” and it looks like they are picking things up and getting ready to start a tour once again. And again that tour is going to be supporting Thee Oh Sees all over the U.S. and Canada. All of this also in support of their forthcoming album “Key to a False Door,” which is set to be released by John Dwyer’s (of Thee Oh Sees) Castleface records on September 17.
Brooklyn Vegan has posted a song, “Garbage on Glue” from the forthcoming album and you can check it out here. And if you haven’t heard “Seriousness” then you can check that one out in its entirety on their Bandcamp page (highly suggested) and it can be purchased on vinyl or digital download from the bandcamp page as well. It’s on Spotify as well, if you are so inclined. But seriously, just buy the album already. And no matter what, see them live. You will not be disappointed.
You can find The Blind Shake and Thee Oh Sees on tour in a town near you on the dates below:
Thee Oh Sees — 2013 Tour Dates
10/10 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with The Blind Shake, OBNIIIs, Fryborg
10/11 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with OBNIIIs, The Blind Shake, Old Light
10/12 The Chapel San Francisco, CA with The Blind Shake, OBNIIIs, Dreamsalon
10/16/2013 The Rickshaw Vancouver BC
10/18/2013 Republik Calgary AB
10/19/2013 VFW MIssoula MT
10/21/2013 The Amsterdam Minneapolis MN
10/22/2013 The Empty Bottle Chicago IL w/ The Blind Shake, OBN IIIs
10/23/2013 The Empty Bottle Chicago IL w/ The Blind Shake, OBN IIIs
10/24/2013 The Shelter Detroit MI
10/29/2013 Irving Plaza New York NY w/ The Blind Shake, OBNIIIs, Dreamsalon
10/30/2013 Underground Arts Philadelphia PA
10/31/2013 Kranky’s Winston-Salem NC
11/02/2013 Terminal Atlanta GA
11/04/2013 The Stage Miami FL
11/08/2013 Fun Fun Fun Fest Austin TX
11/10/2013 Low Spirits Albuquerque NM
11/12/2013 Bar Pink San Diego CA
11/13/2013 Observatory Santa Ana
The Blind Shake – 2013 Tour Dates
Sep 26 GONERFEST 10 Memphis, TN
Oct 10 The Chapel San Francisco, CA
Oct 11 The Chapel San Francisco, CA
Oct 12 The Chapel San Francisco, CA
Nov 13 Constellation Room at the Observatory Santa Ana, CA
Usually when walking into a venue for a show I expect to drink away the opening acts. Openers are something that, 95% of the time, must be endured rather than enjoyed. At The Empty Bottle in Chicago this past July 15 all of that changed for me. I was there to see Thee Oh Sees after a full and final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and sure they were fantastic (as previously mentioned) but I can’t put into words how astonishing The Blind Shake’s performance was.
After a brief soundcheck the trio left the stage and returned dressed identically head to toe in black, accentuating their already strikingly similar appearance: all around my height (5′ 10″) with shaved heads, one of the guitarists wears glasses with a band strapped tightly around his head, and for good reason as the show would soon prove.
They immediately obliterated the stage with the drummer pounding violently and unforgivingly on his set while the two guitarists stood firmly, leaning towards their mics as if at any moment they would jump directly into the crowd to throttle each and every one of us. The guitars were being battered just as hard as the drums with every hammered strum threatening to rip the strings right out while the two of them barked into their mics on opposite ends of the stage in unison, and when they weren’t actively engaged in singing were flailing around the stage, instruments swinging freely as if they were at once trying to escape them or wield them as weapons.
With each song that passed more of the audience was won over. I kept turning to my friends in disbelief. My brother was standing beside me and we couldn’t figure out how to describe what we were seeing and hearing. The only phrase I could manage being “This is frightening. It’s fucking amazing.” And that it was: both frightening and amazing.
Listening to the album right now on Spotify is only capturing some of the experience (again, much like Thee Oh Sees). The songs on their latest full length, “Seriousness”, are straight forward, foot-stomping jangling and aggressive garage punk. Standout tracks are definitely the surf-rockin’ opener “Hurracan” and “Out of Work”. There isn’t a single track on the album that is over 3 minutes long, “On Me” comes closest at 2:58. Each song is an unrelenting, visceral, rhythmic jolt aided by open guitar tunings that allow for extra jangle. Everything they have recorded can be heard on their Bandcamp page, so you should head over there and check it out.
Right now those of you in the midwest are lucky as The Blind Shake have a few shows coming up in August in Chicago and Minneapolis according to their website, with a full fall tour schedule coming soon. And according to their Bandcamp page they have a show in Florida and Georgia in September. They are also playing the Halifax Pop Explosion in October, you lucky Haligonians!
Their albums are available for actual physical purchase (highly suggested) from Learning Curve records. Their latest, “Seriousness” is available on vinyl.