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The Blind Shake

Seriousness

(Learning Curve; US: 11 Jul 2011; UK: 11 Jul 2011)

Loud, strident and dull

The last thing you want from a rocking album is for it to be tedious, but Minneapolis’s Blind Shake manage to make Seriousness just that. With sledgehammer guitars, battering-ram drums and shouted vocals, the band limit themselves from the outset. Rather than exploring what can be done within these admittedly limited parameters, they settle into a familiar, neo-punk rut and rarely leave it. Tempos rarely change from one song to the next, vocals are entirely without charisma, and the guitars induce head-aching rather than head-banging. There are exceptions: “No Rags” channels moments of surf-tunage and a (gasp!) downtempo midsection, while “I’m Not an Animal” is catchy in a slam-the-lids-of-the-trash-cans kind of way.  Both “Seriousness” and “On Me” offer the twin delights of a deliberate pace and a few guitar effects. As for the rest, it’s not very melodious, which is okay. It’s not very musically sophisticated, which is okay. It’s raw and unpolished, which is okay. It’s duller than dirt, which is not okay. Be grateful for small favors, though, as half the songs clock in at under two minutes.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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