The Seattle duo that shook things up with their self-titled debut three years ago recently took time out from a heavy touring schedule to release a sophomore album that is every bit as gritty as that now hard-to-find first release. The new album, Shiver + Shake, is a timeless take on blues-infused rock with all the ferociousness of a punk band.
Although the 13-track mountain of new goodness feels more thoughtful, it still retains the natural brashness of this memorably eclectic indie band. Guitarist Joel Schneider serves up unfettered vocals over relentless guitar work. And drummer Andy Lum has taken over for Ethan Jacobsen to lay down a long series of mind-blowing percussive romps in the spirit of his predecessor.
My Goodness was originally started by Schneider as a side project to his other electrifying alternative rock band, Absolute Monarchs, which released a full length in 2012. Schneider powered up vocals along with bass and keys in that band. He plays a heavy guitar and infuses more blues in this one.
My Goodness is potently loaded rock and roll.
The album name, Shiver + Shake, pays homage to the two sensations Schneider shoots for across the album. He aims to make everyone shiver and shake and, mostly, he does exactly that. Even on the more temperately mellow album leader Cold Feet Killer, Schneider frequently titters into either of those extremes.
Cold Feet Killer is one of the first songs that Schneider had ever written with an acoustic guitar. He wrote it with an open G and occasionally played it while on the road. It wasn't until recently when the track was rearranged and rerecorded that it began to feel ready for the record.
Rearranging material has become a cornerstone for Schneider's creative process. He doesn't necessarily structure the composition on his own but rather brings in a chorus and verse that he arranges with Lum until it begins to feel right for the band. When blasted through his Fender Twin Reverb amp and his custom built Verellen amp at the same time, the tone become something no one else owns.
It's especially distinct on impossibly big bluesy tracks like the opener and title song, Shiver + Shake. As one of the rawest songs on the album, Schneider and Lum encapsulate the duo sound as stripped back and bass loaded. Schneider sneaks in some bass and keys to give it a fuller band sound.
Schneider also gives ample credit to Lum, who he says has a solid meter while being able to balance both the technical precision and natural groove of the percussion needed. His influence also seems to give tracks like Sweet Tooth, Back Again, and Hangin' On a mellower and more polished sound overall. He says it is more indicative of the how band should sound versus the fiery abandon that struck chords three years ago.
For anything that fiery, skip down to Check Your Bones when Schneider starts to snarl the verse and Lum tightens up on his rolls. A singular vocal reverb somewhere inside hints at a slight sixties psychedelia. The blistering pace of it is everything anyone remembers about the debut, even if it is amazingly balanced with the contemplative confessional Bottle as a folksy followup.
My Goodness bounces back again with the relationship reconstructor Letter To The Sun, big bass-heavy blues rock track Say You're Gone, and the squalling head-pounder C'mon Doll. Those three tracks together, along with Hot Sweat, will remind anyone that Schneider generally leans heavy despite the rock lullaby Lost In The Soul. It's the shiver after so many shakes. Play on.
Shiver + Shake By My Goodness Grabs 8.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Listening to Schneider progress with a new bandmate shows plenty of the promise for a side project that sounds increasingly permanent. While the wild abandon and brashness of the debut will be missed by anyone who appreciated that sound, he retains just enough of it with Lum to remind everyone that it hasn't left. He just wants to lay down more diversity in the offering. Perfect.