(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CD review - Shadow Shadow Shade, Shadow Shadow Shade (2010)

Shadow Shadow Shade's self-titled debut is short but richly faceted. Their geographical center lies somewhere in indie rock land but, like Schroedinger's Cat, you won't know exactly where they'll be until you actually observe what they're playing on any given track. The tracks wind through psychedelia, retro indie folk rock, and progressive rock. Several of the songs explore movement based structure rather than a simple verse-chorus. The constants are the richly developed drum parts and the vocal arrangements that pull a number of close harmonies together, layering male and female vocals together into a thick consonant sound.

Shadow Shadow Shade kicks off with the multi-part Is This A Tempest In the Shape of a Bell. The title section owes a debt to Wilco's I Got You (At the End of the Century) but the parts build a great edifice than their roots. The indie rock of the main section drifts back and forth through a psychedelic veil before sliding into a sparser post punk reverie which comes back to a swirl of indie rock. Finally, the end collapses into the kind of noise experiment that Wilco played with on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, albeit with more interesting vocal layering.

From here, Shadow Shadow Shade visits a mournful folk sound in Dark of Heather, an indie rock anthem on Say Yes that's reminiscent of Trip Shakespeare, and a shimmery indie pop groove for Did Not the Lights Go Out For You?. The lyrics on Did Not the Lights follow an oblique narrative style, but the song satisfies despite the open ended nature of the words. Then again, they tell us, "This doesn't mean anything, I'm just being paranoid."

My favorite song is Line 'Em Up, which flows like King Crimson's Epitaph. The processional rhythm, the spikes of guitar, the backing vocal sound all come together to take me back to the first time I heard In the Court of the Crimson King. There's a sense of inevitability as the song builds from its dreamy start to its powerful conclusion. The raw, prolonged "It's all over now" resets the mood to setup the reflective start of Amputee.

Any of the moments on Shadow Shadow Shade evoke something different and each has its own sound. Still, the album as a whole flows easily without jarring. The biggest problem is that it comes to an end all too quickly. The band is like a good quality rum, which is fine on its own, but shines differently depending on what you bring to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment