By The Legendary Shack Shakers
Fire-bellied Appalachian aggravators, The Legendary Shack Shakers have become something of a curiosity to music fans across the globe, blazing a trail that leads back to the Rockabilly heartland of Paducah, Kentucky. More nuanced than a psychobilly band, punchier than your garden variety punk outfit, the Shack Shakers are well versed in equal parts satire and raw power. To quote the late, great Hank Williams, they're really 'settin' the woods on fire'...
The sixth album follows in their by now whetted, inimitable panache. Dark wit tales of Bible belt peculiarities and an absolutely storming punk-ified take on the sounds of the Deep South, taking in Cajun accordion, polkas, bluegrass...you name it. They borrow something from everywhere, to sound both rootsy and industrious. Like all their albums, this one offers sprawling variety and all styles are addressed with acute attention to detail. For a band steeped in roots music it's amazing that they're so stone cold fresh. It's a bit Tom Waits goes Cow-punk and will ignite fans of the breakneck eccentricities of Gogol Bordello.
The album kicks off in typically thunderous fashion with the could-be-heavy-metal thrash of 'Sin Eater,' and by track eleven, we've already had yodelling and traditional bluegrass punctuated with percussion constructed from actual recordings of hammers on anvils, and the rattle of workshop chains. Ferocious harmonica-work from theatrical frontman Colonel JD Wilkes, screeches amongst the toiling thud of upright bass and the bark of Duane Denison's guitar, who also holds a day job in cult 80's lot, The Jesus Lizard.
'Agridustrial' tells the story of an America returned to the soil, exorcised of the bloated excesses of over-development and taken back to its agrarian roots. There's mixed feelings among this rebellious streak, though. Wilkes reflects on affinities for old time America; and at the same time looks to loath the religious repression. The strange notion that modernised America could suddenly swap the hum of SUV's for the clink of a blacksmith among fallow fields is certainly a romantic one.
The Shack Shakers continue to teeter on the cusp of imploding chaos, and are surprisingly good at committing their fire-breathing live theatrics to record. Though, the stage is where they shine. Seeing is believing people.