I haven’t heard a band make elegant, weightless rock ‘n roll the way The Shivas have.
On a drowsy Sunday morning, I’m usually frying eggs in a sizzling pan of olive oil and Irish butter. The musky scent of brewed coffee lingers beneath the sunlight oozing through the window. The room speakers creak with The Shivas’ lo-fi, tingly vocals and smooth, lullaby guitar lines – this is a very memorable atmosphere.
The band’s fourth album, Better Off Dead, has defined my Sunday mornings for the last two weeks. It’s a slight departure from the brash surf-rock flair of 2014’s You Know What To Do, and this newer sound of old-timey rock n’ roll has a soundscape that doesn’t claim the spotlight. Instead, the spacious reverb of the music welcomes the contingency of the atmosphere. The quirky sounds of my college apartment, the murmuring small talk and the crackling stove grease, add to the aura of weightless and waltzy tracks like “Better Off Dead” and “Never Never Coming Home.”
More energetic tracks like “Maryanne” and “Whatever” have a shimmering psych-rock jingle to the likes of Temples and Mac DeMarco, but the songs are coined with a hint of quirky Portland originality and a revisit of the band’s knack for short, wonderfully catchy songs, which are bountiful on You Know What To Do. “Gun In My Pocket” is a re-imagination of their power single on 2013’s Whiteout!: an album drenched in whirling reverb and equally pleasant to listen to.
The Shivas have a rich four-album discography that shows their ability to create dynamic, accessible, and fun songwriting. Check out their music video for the original version of “Gun In My Pocket”!
-Tim the Music Director (Now the Assistant News Director)
Featured Image Credit: Google, Labeled for Reuse