Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Blind Shake Unlocks False Doors

The Blind Shake by Monica McGiven Photography
Minneapolis riff-scientists The Blind Shake aren't anywhere close to Midwest mainstream. For the better part of a poor man's decade, the psych-noise power trio have been perfecting murderous live shows in warmer parts with the likes of Audacity, Hunters, and OBN IIIs.

The sound has evolved too. From their crunchy and crisp punk debut years ago into a heavier garage rock punk-influenced trio with plenty of distortion, their newest outing feels a long, long way from Rizzograph in 2005. That's not a bad thing. Key To A False Door could leave you breathless.

Fourteen tracks of tenacious percussion-driven garage punk. 

One of the most notable differences on Key To A False Door is how the band mixes up its stuff. Dave Roper is much more front and center than he ever used to be, leading more often than following Jim Blaha on guitar and his brother Mike Blaha on baritone guitar.

In fact, this is precisely what gives their tracks the garage stomp pulse. You can feel the pounding bass rolls course right through you during live performances, assuming you find some place up front. You'll want to do that. Between the yells, shouts, and solos, they make a hardcore impression.

Le Pasion is about as slow as they go. It wasn't the strongest track to promote the album, given the greater propensity for this band to remain in higher gears, but it does reveal some of their psych-noise leanings.

A better place to start to get a better sense of these underground veterans is to start with the first track off the album. Garbage On Glue demonstrates a heavier dose of pulse-quickening percussion and hardcore riffs as the Blaha brothers shout out sizzling lyrics.

Follow that up with Porto Alegre, inspired by the densely populated city in southern Brazil, which crashes along with a that's-the-way-life-is attitude. You trudge along, putting your best foot forward no matter what someone dumps on you.

Many of the vibes put out by The Blind Shake are like that. They have a party-hard vibe, but the lyrics often come from someplace much bleaker. When it is dark, they cut right to it too. The longest track on the album approaches 4 minutes but most average around the two-minute mark.

That longer track, 555 Fade, is one to put on the short list of The Blind Shake samplings. It carries more primal percussion and razor-sharp guitar plunks from beginning to end as the Blaha brothers ease into one mini-riff after the next. What you'll find is four minutes of beautifully disturbing and disruptive noise.

Other standout tracks include the dark and buzzed-out Crawl Out, the hauntingly repetitive build in Anaerobic, and the monotonous and monstrous Monofactory. The plunky Calligraphy about  being unknown and wasting away is worth a listen and Red River Visionaries will be appreciated by the alternative rock crowd for its pop vocals.

There isn't much to skip per se, except Flying Rabbit, which is best played for distortion and feedback fans. It's a decent stop gap for live performances but wasn't necessarily needed on the studio album. Even as a lead -n for Monofactory, the drum at the end sets a mood but doesn't save it.

Key To A False Door By The Blind Shake Unlocks 6.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

There is a monotonous tone that becomes ominous on Key To A False Door, but the album itself is significantly more diverse than previous outings. Some might even say this is one of the band's finest moments in that they channel their own feelings of music scene drudgery at times.

You can find Key To A False Door by The Blind Shake on Amazon. The album can be downloaded from iTunes or you can look for the vinyl rarities like Easter egg yellow direct from Castle Face Records. For upcoming shows, find The Blind Shake on Facebook or their website, which is updated more often. 
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