SHANKS – Surfing The Lexicon LP

Album: Surfing the Lexicon LP

Artist: Shanks

Label: Phratry

Release Date: May 27, 2014

Shanks 5-27

www.phratryrecords.com

BY FRED MILLS

Although the Shanks hail from Ontario, their presence among the roster of a Cincinnati label (Phratry) should be clue enough that their sound is classic O-HI-O punk: think bands from the Cincy/Akron/Cleveland axis of evil, like older icons the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu along with more recent phenoms such as the New Bomb Turks, the Greenhornes and the Black Keys. What makes ‘em all the more unusual: the duo of St. Pistolwhip von Shankenstein and Colonel Crankshaft are a bass-drums enterprise, yet the sound is remarkably expansive, with a ‘70s hard psych vibe operative.

To wit: opening track “Feel the Holes,” which recalls vintage Blue Oyster Cult; the creepy-crawly Alice Cooperesque “Out of Your Mouth”; “Step By Step,” a call-and-response slice of cosmic boogie; and the thumping, pounding, pulse-quickening “Get Cut Tonight,” which out-stoners even stoner-rock legends Fu Manchu and Kyuss. And while on paper this might not seem all that sophisticated—given that the band’s musical “lexicon” is purity through simplicity, efficiency through brevity (the entire album clocks in at just a hair over a half-hour)—there is a depth and complexity here that reveals itself over the course of repeated listens. Given the hirsute biker-rock image the two men additionally project (pictured below), it all turns into one of the year’s most galvanizing musical surprise to date.

Pressed on In this mean ol’ rock ‘n’ roll world, you’re either with us or against us, and I, for one, and damned glad that the Shanks are with us.

DOWNLOAD: “Feel the Holes,” “Step By Step”

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