Perhaps it makes me an oddball (watch it, buster), but I occasionally wonder how I’d define rock and soul music for someone who by some oddity had never heard it before. Would I talk about the boring academics of the music like Greil Marcus on a Ken Burns bender, or would I be a little more direct?
I’m a little more sold on the latter approach, mostly ’cause I think I’ve found the very definition of the genre distilled into eleven and a half minutes of sonic roar. Last week the long-dormant-but-still-kickin’ Prisonshake posted 3 new songs from their long-awaited (We’re talkin’ Lee Mavers/Kevin Shields/Tom Scholz long-awaited here) forthcoming new record, and I’d be hard-pressed to come up with three songs I’ve heard in the past few months that’ve moved me as much as these three.
So first off, crank up your speakers or ‘phones and go have a listen, Cheese.
If you need to boil it down even more and have too short an attention span, give “Obviously” a shot. Specifically, about the 2:50 mark, the oft-unheralded killer ‘Shake rhythm section (which I presume is still Scariano & Patrick) roils into this Memphis soul-stew snare ride over a monster bass riff with a tambourine backing the beat before the Griffin/Enkler guitars come snarling back into the fray. The whole song is bloody glorious, but from that section onwards, “Obviously” becomes the most kick-ass genre-defining gloriously abandoned rock and roll moment since the end of Cobra Verde’s “Here Comes Nothing”.
Not that “Obviously” is the only treat–it took me a bit to warm up to the snarly “Begin the Begin” guitar figure on “Cutout Bin”, but as the song revs up it has one of the most killer hooks of any ‘Shake song I’ve heard. “Dream Along” needs no warming up to–it’ll grab you from the get-go and then confound your expectations with an amazing coda.
Here’s the deal, really. I’ve been an observer for 12-13 years or so while Griffin, Enkler, Skitch, and Patrick have recorded, scrapped, re-rerecorded, scrapped again, and then repeated on trying to get a worthy successor to Roaring Third finished. I’ve been skeptical too; the longer the wait, the higher the expectations. After the ten year mark, it’d be natural for doubts to creep in. My first reaction after finally hearing these songs? “Holy shit. They actually did it.”
The new album will be called Dirty Moons and–barring something unforeseen–should be out on Scat Records sometime this Spring or Summer.