(photo courtesy of NoodlePDX)
I should start by saying I owe Perpetua a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Portland, Oregon’s The Shaky Hands. He has superb musical taste and his recommendations are always spot on. And then after some searching, it seems the blogorazzi have been onto this band since about February of 2007.
Either way, The Shaky Hands eponymous debut LP is shaping up to be one of the best so far this year for me. And I think, had I discovered their LP back in February, it would definitely have gone unplayed; thankfully I discovered their brand of off-kilter, sloppy, lo-fi rock with a twang in the summer.
Because make no mistake The Shaky Hands are the kind of band you listen to while cruising around in your car looking for kicks as the sun beats down and it’s 95 degrees in the shade and all you want is one more good moment with your friends, one more instant where you all look at each other and though you have nothing more to give you make the effort to keep things rolling.
I don’t often agree with record label summations, but this line from Holocene Music really got to me. They said, of The Shaky Hands, they are a “visceral, life-affirming live experience that will totally make you hug the person standing next to you.”
I can’t argue with that, nor would I want to. The Shaky Hands debut album is full of upbeat songs; they’ve got the requisite hand claps and whistles, song structures that are tight but actual feel loose, catchy as hell melodies, and lyrics that just make you stop ruminating over the shit in your brain.
To wit: On track “We Will Rise,” lead singer Nick Delffs warbles “I’ve been searchen’ a long time/for a heart that beats like mine/and I think I found it.” Or on “Sunburns” it opens with a whistled melody you’ll be whistling three days later and with the observations “You’ve left sunburns all on my face/ Your love was bright, bright that day/ how could that be?”
They do what the best writers inevitably do, the manage to capture moments of life in ways you’ve never thought about. I’ve never thought about the idea of someone leaving sunburns on my face from the strength of their love, but I’ve certainly felt that emotion. And like sunburns you never know it until it’s much too late and the power of that emotion is embedded into your gut and leaves your skin peeling in pain.
Delffs has the kind of voice which could become annoying really quickly. It’s off-key, oddly pitched, certainly the sound of a voice from a person who hasn’t taken many voice lessons. But that’s the bands strength. When he delivers odd lamentations about finding a similar heart you feel like he means it. It’s not pretty, but it’s certainly genuine. And that counts for a lot in music.
Though I feel late to the Shaky Hands party, I’m guessing the guys in the band are going to have to kick me out cause I’m not leaving any time soon. I’m gonna be the guy at 5 a.m. drunk from happiness and plopped down into a big comfy sofa. That’s the kind of music these guys deliver.