Monday, December 03, 2007

The Blind Shake - Carmel

Download: The Blind Shake - "Midnight Scream"
Download: The Blind Shake - "Jolly Joes"

The Blind Shake
Carmel (Learning Curve Records, 2007)
Grade: B

It has to be awfully hard for musicians who play in a rawk-ously loud garage rock band to live in Minnesota, a state that has a catchphrase named after its renowned friendliness. After all, I don't think Ole and Edna would have approved of Dave Pirner yelling "fuck you" at Officer Friendly during the beginning of "Kids Don't Follow". But the members of The Blind Shake sure do make a convincing case for Minneapolis as a proto-punk town by unleashing a dirty-dozen number of fuzzed-out songs, all of which reside at the six-cornered intersection of Mudhoney, The Stooges and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

While TBS don't reach the transcendently sleazy heights of "Touch Me I'm Sick" or "Black Tongue", they, as a group, do a solid job of convincing the listener that Minneapolis is a scuzzier place than the Lutherans swimming in 10,000 lakes would have you believe. Tracks like "Been Young" and "Midnight Scream" explode with the kind of kinetic energy that can only come from a damp, crowded basement show or your parents' garage.

However, the songs on Carmel start to take on the same monolithic quality and listening to them all in a row becomes an slight exercise in monotony. The key word, though, is slight, because monotony is not that big of a problem when your average song length is two minutes long. Still, variety is the spice of life and while parts of Carmel are muy caliente, (especially the first few songs) toward the last few songs, the record becomes un poco frio. Doublestop bends and string scrapes are awesome for a while, but good things can become stale. However, at the end of 24 minutes of blistering, balls-out MPLS garage-rock, the listener may be simply too stunned to care. From now on, that state-of-mind could be referred to as having the blind shakes.

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(Jonathan Graef)

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