Today we’re back on a more mellow trip with this dreamy garage pop record from The Shacks. From what I can tell, this isn’t a band as much as a producer’s assembled product. That’s definitely weak sauce, but the results are solid. As a kid that grew up at weeknight cruise-ins in Northeast Ohio, this hits all the nostalgic buttons for me. It hearkens to a simpler time, but also has a modern aspect that makes it stand out a little from the works that influenced it.
The record sounds lush and nails the retro vibe they were obviously going for. The drums and bass have a bit of a motown sound, the bass nice and round while the drums are snappy and relaxed. The guitar chirps and melodic lines work well and the added synths/keys fill the sound of the “band” out nicely. The breathy vocals work well, albeit being a bit one-dimensional as they smoothly serenade you track after track with a very even keel.
All in all, this is good rainy day music and worth your time if you’re into old-fashioned rock and roll. – Jason
This Strange Effect – The record lets you know what you’re in store for straight away with this mid-tempo, throwback tune that features a cool guitar melody, synth/organ swells, and a sweet, quiet female vocal. The tune gets my heel tapping and my head nodding. It’s a solid dash of pop rock. The subtle speed up at the end was a nice touch. Good stuff.
Left It With The Moon – This track sounds more like a traditional, with the melody owned by the vocal. There are some piano accents, but otherwise, this has a strange 1940s feel to it, and almost an island vibe. It’s a pleasant tune. There’s an accordion/melodica type of sound in this song that works really well.
Orchids – This one has a darker vibe to it, coming off at first like something of a B-side from Mr. Bungle’s California LP. The bass groove is deep, and there’s some cool drum fills to give it all some zazz. I’m really liking this song. The saxophone solo was unexpected and serves the track well. The keys add some really atypical details and the switch to an almost reggae dub totally caught me off guard. Thumbs way up.
Audrey Hepburn – Here we have a saccharine sweet R&B tune that once again is giving me a Bungle vibe, particularly thanks to a weirdo synth accent. Then you get the chorus, which has an almost country-fied guitar and snare shuffle rhythm. I like the R&B part a lot more, as the tune sways back and forth. It’s ok.
Tidal Waves – This track starts with just the vocal and an acoustic guitar before it gets a little more funky and reminds me a bit of Beck. It’s a solid tune that gets my nodding along.
Rain – The synth accents that open this tune are cool and give the tune an almost futuristic vibe, if the present was 1963. This piece reminds me of the Beatles a bit in the arrangement and rhythm, and all in all, I’m digging it. The deliberate ride bell hits at the end are oddly cool details.
Hands In Your Pockets – The reggae vibe is back with the dub bass and chirpy guitar. The chorus vocal is too repetitive for my tastes, but otherwise, this is a neat dose of playful rock and roll, the island feel making me sway in time. It’s an okay tune.
No Surprise – Synth and guitar get this track slowly crawling out of the gate before it assumes a sound that makes me think of the Velvet Underground. It’s a slow to mid-paced roller that gets my head bobbing along and it’s got a catchy chorus. Good stuff.
Strange Boy – We’re back with the darker sound and the vocal takes the heart-broken 1960s teen girl approach to deliver a pretty solid tune. The chorus lifts the song nicely and I’m really liking this track as well. Oddly, it’s listed as a digital bonus track, which is nuts because it’s better than some of the other album cuts. The male vocal harmonies and accents add a lot to this track. Thumbs way up.