THE SHANKS - Surfing The Lexicon

The Shanks - Surfing The Lexicon

10 songs
33:00 minutes
***** ****


Usually I dismiss from the start rock bands using only bass guitar and drums. The lack of guitar too often turns the music into a this kind of pretentious minimalist wannabe art that only hipsters seem to be attuned to. Therefore I am lucky to have given Canadian drum and bass duo The Shanks some moments of my time, and believe me, it didn’t take very long to hooked by their sound.

The band consists of songwriter, vocalist and bass player Pistolwhip von Shankenstein and drummer/vocalist Colonel Crankshaft, two hairy guys who have been busily releasing music for the last ten years. Both seem to be practising on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Canada, and maybe it’s that isolation that allows them such a unique sound. The first seconds of the opener Feel The Holes are already proof enough of the duo’s genius. The drums are wild and relentless, but the focal point of attention is the heavily distorted bass guitar that sounds as if an entire army were playing all together at ones. Most bands usually lose it with weak vocals, but that is certainly not the case here. Pistolwhip’s vocals are astonishingly smooth and melodic, without losing the coolness that rock music needs. On this track, we get a punk rock vibe with a stoner edge, not unlike some of the more rocking stuff of Queens Of The Stone Age. The following When We Come is more melodic, slower in pace, but also here the vocals stand out. This time the punk attitude comes with a side dish of power pop, like the best times of Weezer way back in the past. Both of these tracks, as well as the dramatic Get Cut Tonight, towards the end of the album, were already released on a seven inch vinyl record two years earlier, and the band turned video clips for all three songs.

The remaining material is of course also very great, like the short Touch Me which has a very Seventies rock sound la The Who or Cheap Trick, except that The Shanks prove time and again that they really don’t need a six-stringed guitar.

The Shanks switch between fast hard rocking numbers and slower, moodier tracks, where Out Of Your Mouth and Who You Are even make it over four minutes. In the end, the only criticism is the rather short length of the album, but then again the two hairy guys release music very often under different formats so that it is understandable that their longplayers don’t turn out that long. If you can imagine a tasty steaming stew of proto punk, arena rock, stoner rock and power pop, you should definitely risk an ear. It’s exceptional how skilfully The Shanks combine gritty rock music with charming melodies into something you won’t come across every day.

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