This is a review of "Wow Signals" recorded by Shatner. The review was written by Ryan Mitchell Smith in 2015.
Shatner: Wow Signals (Released 24th January, 2015)
As I catch up with some new music and set to Windolening my kitchen windows I notice an album by a band that I have heard much about but as yet not had the pleasure of going to see yet... the delightful 'Shatner'. It seems I am late to the party, but decided to give their latest album "Wow Signals" (released 24th January 2015) a spin.
I'm Into Infinity starts things off with a delicious off-beat groove and almost Morse-code beeping that really sets the scene for a great soundscape. Vocals enter for a short stint before a fat bass and kick drum raises the game. This is a very choppy yet fluent track that has all the right catchy bits and whizzy bridge sections.
What Two And Two Is For has a different feel altogether... adding an Americana feel with arpeggio guitars and a great double-tracked vocal. This is full of glorious "Aahs" and beautiful backdrops of female vocals and pad sounds. There is a cheeky catchiness to this track that I haven't heard for a long time and I think the band have really identified the sound that they are after and are executing it with real panache.
Double Helix is a medium paced yet driving track that flourishes with lovely harmonies and gorgeous guitars ringing out asunder. There's an Elbow-like quality to some of the melody work and the lyrics are very well thought out and delivered with a certain swagger. This is great song-writing and keeps things simple and lets the song do the work... exactly what it needed... This is a beautiful song.
You Shaped Space has a fabulous intro which turns quickly into a chordy guitar and cheeky drum-beat before some riff based vocals break up the structure of the song and are smothered in organ loveliness again before the theme of the song starts to emerge. This has a Cherry Ghost flavour with a much more diverse sense of structure to it. Good stuff.
Spaceships and Stuff is a refreshing and cheeky song about all things spacey and sci-fi. Taking on an almost melodic Punk edge this song continues with intrigue and is very much focussed on having fun. I can see an audience going bananas to this track at a festival and the band should be proud of this song... it's brilliant!
We Are Not Alone takes that space theme and introduces an alien into the mix. The bass comes in with a dynamite bass-line after a great little intro. The lyrics in this track really made me smile and the melodies are catchy as hell and the three feel of the backing really keeps things tickling along brilliantly. I am extremely impressed.
The Day The Words Ran Out is a fabulous track 7. Euphoria begins to set in before we see another cheeky chord progression mixed with beautiful harmonies and structures within the song. This is one of my favourite tracks on the record as it really pushes the boundaries of structure and keeps you really focussed on what is about to happen next. Shatner have hit their stride with this song and I'm now all in.
Betelguese apart from being an awesome song title is also a further development into the soundscape world. Wispy noises and bass segments tease us before an extremely funky track enters with mean bass, funky guitar and a Mr Bungle-esque drum part that is to die for. The vocal is understated in the verses and euphoric in the choruses and this again is another belting song.
Three Erotic Dreams revisits an earlier theme from the album with that morse-code sneaking back in to what is a fabulously cheeky little track. I won't spoil it for you... but do make sure you listen to this song... It certainly made me smile and I believe you will too. It is absolutely brilliant and comes across as a bit of a party track. Wonderful lyrics and very clever melodies make for an epic Shatner track.
The record finishes with The Wow Signals in a tip of the hat to its title. Imagine Alex Harvey started a band with The Monkeys... No... not there yet but you're getting the picture... this is a very cool band. This track had me smiling like crazy all the way through it and it is indeed very fitting as the final track.
Catchy and tongue-in-cheek but smothered in amazing musicianship... Wow Signals uses very clever and thought provoking lyric writing with catchy as hell melodies to serve a thump-a-thon of gargantuan tunes. I'm now in love with this band... You might just fall for them too... especially if you give Wow Signals a spin. This is an amazing album that definitely should be owned by all good music fans regardless of genre. Ace songs are ace songs. Shatner, are anything but Shat.
So who are this band who have made me smile so?
Shatner are; Jim Bower - Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards, Rick Bower - Bass, Gareth Chaplin - Drums, "Planet" Claire Gibbons - Backing Vocals, and Sarah Niven - Backing Vocals. They are based in Leeds and have been around since 2003, which is likely why I have heard of them and why their prestige is already doing them wonders... they've hard-worked their way to where they are... and you can really tell when you listen to this album.
On further inspection of the band's credentials it seems they have a great gig coming up at The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on June 9th 2015 where they are supporting Robyn Hitchcock, and they are also at Galtres Festival this August Bank Holiday.