SHACK SHAKERS, TH’: Lower Broadway Lo-Fi: CD

May 10, 2007

We can talk about punk rock: dissect it, categorize and compartmentalize it. But the fact remains, for this reviewer, a lot of times what draws me to a band is something that’s absolutely unclassifiable: the energy involved: that intangible but immediately apparent thing that, frankly, you either got as a band or you don’t. That said, Th’ Shack Shakers aren’t punk in a sonic sense—this is country music, straight up. But goddamn, energy? Are you kidding me, here? Energy, they’ve got buckets of. Recording’s live and raw—busted speakers, tiny amps, and fuzzed-out as all hell—and all the better for it. LBLF is apparently the only existing recording of this band (culled from the one cassette copy they gave out) and it’s a story like that, that sense of bucking the odds, that can’t help but endear me to the music. It was recorded live but as a session, not in a show environment—but Jesus Christ, it sounds like a live show, like a crazed and chaotic stomp of a live show, full of frenetic bluegrass and the kind of translated energy that you so rarely get outside of the punk scene. Fans of everyone from rockabilly to country would dig this—if your record collection holds anything by The Pine Hill Haints to Reverend Horton Heat, you’ll be all over this. There’s something to be said for an album that could’ve come out last week or in 1955 and still makes you grin with the uncontained and relentless fury and joy of it. I rarely even listen to bands of this genre, but the sheer guts and sweat is so audible here that I’ve found myself putting it on long after I could’ve written a review and been done with it.

 –keith (Arkam)