This is one of our favorite finds of this early 2012.
Nick Shattell wanted to do things his way. He didn’t want to shape his vision to someone else’s whims. He didn’t want to focus on booking as many shows as possible, and he didn’t want to pander to record labels. He wanted to focus on his own songwriting. So, in 2006, he created not an Airplane. After a few spells of couch hopping before settling in Modesto, it seems that Shattell is finally getting his way.
“This is actually my fourth release,” he said. “And while the other three feel more like demos that got progressively better, I learned a lot through the process of making them, outgrowing them, and deciphering what I could have done better, or worse even. Not to mention, the more time you spend alone in front of a microphone, the more the awkwardness fades away and you can actually reach some level of comfort.”
It’s that level of comfort and desire for growth that has led to the pure, organic sound of not an Airplane. It also leads to some interesting — and nontraditional — choices, like releasing an album that contains exactly two songs. “Speak In” clocks in at just over 16 minutes in length, while “Speak Out” is just a hair under 14 minutes. But if you’re expecting long, meandering, and drawn out snooze fests, you won’t find it here. Shattell proves himself to be quite an expert in composition. Although, my feeling is that he didn’t set out to compose much of anything. He just wrote what he wanted. And that’s what it sounds like, too. There’s nothing careful or reserved about this album. And it’s damn good.
It Could Just Be This Place is a showcase of Shattell’s songwriting, backed by a talented group that fuses rock, folk, and bluegrass. The songs center around central themes but bear the messages through a series of twists and turns. It rocks, it rolls, and it delivers.
The band is currently touring around their native California, and plans to release another album late this year. Also, they are working on “Speak Out – The Movie.” Below, you can check out “Speak In – The Movie.”
The Shams Band are moving up in the Chicago music scene, and you have a chance to see them on the way — this Thursday, January 27, at Lincoln Hall. The Shams Band play an eclectic style of music that incorporates blues, folk, rock and even a little big band to create a unique but authentic sound that’s hard not to play over in your head long after hearing them for the first time.
You might recognize The Shams Band from their recent breakout performance at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival, where they took the stage after Grace Potter and The Nocturnals and before Edward Sharpre & The Magnetic Zeroes. But even if you don’t yet know The Shams Band, chances are, soon enough, your friends will.
Have a listen to “Working Man” below, and check them out Thursday at Lincoln Hall.
One of the most exciting parts of reviewing music is coming across something fresh … something unexpected. It’s what keeps me tuned up. And that’s what I got with Elephant Quiz.
This Bloomington, Indiana band might best be described through their own their list of influences: Rage Against the Machine, Umphrey’s McGee, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Sublime, The Meters … the list goes on and continues to weave in and out of genres and decades. To toss in a couple of my own, I hear some Alice in Chains and Red Hot Chili Peppers from time to time, too. Funk, jazz, reggae, metal … nothing is out of bounds and everything intertwines. One minute Elephant Quiz is bobbing along carelessly through an easy beat then suddenly they smack you with a devolving jam of face-melting metal … only to turn around ease you back into a groove with the smooth and talented delivery of hip-hop infused vocals.
Elephant Quiz is fresh and young. And they are raw. They will only get better as they continue to refine their sound. But let’s hope it doesn’t become too refined – their edge and the willingness to experiment; to mash together whatever the hell they see fit is the draw here. And they are not going unnoticed. Recently they played at the Wuhnurth Music Festival and a Bonnarroo after-party.
Elephant Quiz will perform on New Year’s Eve at the Crump Theater in Columbus, IN at – check this – the Rock-N-Roll ThrowdownExtravaganzaBashSpectacular, with a handful of other bands and for only $20 at the door. They play regularly around Bloomington and we’ll let you know when a Chicago appearance comes up.
In the meantime, have a listen to Marley’s Song, below. You can also see Elephant Quiz in action performing ClusterFunk, here.