[5 January 2010]
Classic-rock acolytes the Shaky Hands have made a name in Portland music circles for serving up a splintered brand of indie rock held together with rusty nails instead of frilly toothpicks. On its third full-length, Let it Die, the band once again adheres to this aesthetic with crunchy Chuck Berry riffs, singer Nicholas Delffs’ gravel-choked rasp, and enough distorted rawness to drown out any conversation at your neighborhood bar. For anyone frustrated with the overly calculated politeness of trendier-leaning indie rock, Let it Die will come as a refreshing blast of sweat-soaked, old-school rock ‘n’ roll. For everyone else, the album will, depending on the song, alternate between steering-wheel-tapping fun and tiring ennui. The album’s most compelling moments, “Allison and the Ancient Eyes” and “All You Recall”, brilliantly pair the band’s driving, almost danceable riffs with Delff’s sobering realizations of growing old. Elsewhere, though, the hooks aren’t quite as sharp, and the lyrics are less-painfully poignant. Instead, Delffs moans unconvincingly over uninteresting four-chord rock with all the emotive tunefulness of Bruce Springsteen singing through a tracheotomy.