Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Shake: Trippin' the Whole Colourful World

The Shake

Trippin' the Whole Colourful World
Flor y Nata/Rainbow Quartz Records

It's hard to believe that one of the most influential countries in world history is in modern terms, young. Rock 'n' Roll rules in Spain! To put it better, garage rock rules in Spain. Bands like The Woggles, Mondo Topless, The Ettes, and many others play to rowdy, young crowds that have more enthusiasm than many other places in the world. In fact, The Fleshtones and The Boss Martians are over there right now on their own tours. Not only that, but The Mummies are playing at Funtastic Dracula Carnival 4 in Valencia from October 10-11. On the surface, Spain has a lot more enthusiasm for great rock 'n' roll than most other places. Although one could fill volumes and explain countless reasons why this is true, it's narrowed down into a few reasons. Wheter it's a byproduct of freedom of an inspiration for political change, rock 'n' roll is intimately tied to national politics. For example, The Beatles are credited by many Russians as planting the seeds of the end of the Communist Regime since hearing them opened up younger people to possibilities. Rock 'n' roll and it's own history is about challenging and rebelling against the norms, accepted ideals, and bringin about cultural change. Spain was ruled under a facsist dictatorship until 1975, but had a relationship with The West simultaneously. The Beatles played Spain in 1965, there were some Spanish rock and garage rock bands and a growing tourist industry in the '60s, but Spain didn't truly open to the rest of the world until Franco died in 1975. So around the same time punk rock started, Spain's rock roots started to absorb all the rock that became more readily available and grow wild as a result. People were hungry for it and everything it symbolized, so they absorbed it faster and caught up. Modern garage rock is especially popular in Spain because of its combinations of different influences and styles from r&b, soul, early garage, British Invasion, psychedelia, and even punk that were absorbed together in a short time period. Unlike The States, the divisions between genres are not as distinct or categorized, which results in a stronger blending of influences, which results in many bands that are reminiscent of cetain strong influences, but entirely unique and in a way, entirely modern Spanish.

The hybrid of influences mentioned previously is a good explanation of garage rock too, but Spanish bands seem to have a unique take on blending those influences together instead of leaning more towards one form or another, like many western counterparts. One could consider Spanish rock to be a younger, more enthusiastic mix, so ti's raw, which is something that many garage rock fans consider important. Among some Spanish bands worth mentioning are The Gurus, The Fumestones, Doctor Explosion, and Hollywood Sinners. Another great band is The Shake. They're better than great. The 2007 release Trippin' the Whole Colourful World is not new, but to most of you, that includes me, it is.

The Shake make raw rock that's also harmonic, psychedelic, and very melodic. "She's in Black" starts with separate powerpop but slow melodies played by two guitars and a bass, then jumps into a great riff-laden number led by lead guitarist Javier Maresca with vocal harmonies that make you listen and then picks up the beat that makes you want to...shake! it has the basic structure of verse, chorus x 2, then repeat. That's a standard garage rock formula, but one knows that you can do a lot with that and three chords that it can be entirely new each time. The following "Stop the Show" is an upbeat retake on "Taxman" with a cool organ and some sing a long parts. It must be pointed out at this point that there is a lot of Beatles influence on Trippin' the Whole Colourful World, but one also should remind themselves that most of us have simply been overinundated with The Beatles to the point where we're jaded even though we know that they pushed rock 'n' roll to the point where just about every great band has some connection to them either musically or as a personal influence that motivated them to play rock 'n' roll. If one combines the influence with the faster assimilation of more rock 'n' roll in a shorter time period, it makes sense. Trippin' the Whole Colourful World is full of similarities to The Beatles For Sale, Help, Rubber Soul, and Revolver, but it also has taken influences from The Kinks, The Jam, some soul, and a little surf to create something unlike what one has heard before. One will immediately notice vocal/guitar Miguel Angel's voice very much like Lennon's, but to point to 4 entirely different albums as being influential along with other bands points to pure originality.

"Now I'm Alone" is a downtempo, dual guitar rocker with hints of Flamenco style on electric, but pushes a little further into a more psychedelic territory at the end. Upbeat songs like "I Still Haven't Seen the Man On the Moon" have a British Beat cranked it up a few notches with echoing guitars and a few loud tweaks, but bassist Alex Pierre (now replaced by David Bailey) steps forward for his own solo work, both during and after it, the song goes into space, which is pretty new territory for a garage band. Other songs like "You Say Goodbye" and "I Got A Hole In My Soul" are deeper, uptempo, white sould with plenty of solid but nicely flourishing drumming from Antonio Medina. "Untitled" has such a great "Wow" and a jump into some of the most fun, upbeat garage rock out there that it would make fans of bands like The Cynics or The Ugly Beats smile. The emphasis on basic songs, great harmonies, a little psychedelia, a dancing beat, and great musicianship that sounds raw and unretouched by studio production strongly reminds one of The Ugly Beats. In fact, "Can't Fight Your Loving," the final track, is an all out surf/fuzz/sitar flecked rocker that one marvels over the feel and guitars but sings along with at the same time. If the Brian Jones era Stones did surf/garage, this is what it might have sounded like.

Since Saturday last week was National Record Store Day, I went hunting for goodies. The Shake was among those that I was really looking for. Like most of you, I need to make a list when going to a used CD place and limit myself to it or else I'm going to be broke until two weeks later. I found The Gun Club, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and a few others that I had a mental list of, but Trippin the Whole Colourful World is a rare gem and something that deserves special recognition as a must own if you like rock 'n' roll that's basic in its origin, structure, and feel that can take you and your ears to new places with catchy, blending harmonies, melodic embellishments that are interesting but never over the top, but retain a rawness that makes it rock 'n' roll in it's best form. Pure, new, basic, but different, melodic, and exciting. If you can get your hands on a copy of Trippin' the Whole Colourful World, you'll treasure it as something very special and prominent in your collection. They also have a new release scheduled for this year.

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