Shade – Latonka (Cougar Records)


Latonka

Blending high energy rock music with shoegaze textures is a difficult balancing act, but it’s one that Pittsburgh’s Shade have handled well over the years. On Latonka, the group’s third full-length, they continue to fine-tune their musical identity and develop their song-craft. They also seem to be getting influenced by heavyweight albums like The Cure’s Disintegration (“Waves” and “CSKeys”), Joy Division’s Closer (“Bird In Hand” and “Lemonade”) and Sigur Ros’ ( ) (whose apocalyptic drumming on “Track 8” is partially nicked for “Bless Your Heart Betty”). However, where those groups evoke images of guys in overcoats sitting at home alone reading Albert Camus, Shade’s music has a celebratory vibe to it, sounding like a bunch of guys likely to be found drinking beer, eating pizza and watching football. The only negative about Latonka (and most of Shade’s work) is that, like most self-funded recordings, the production falls on the lo-fi side, and the drums in particular could have been recorded better. Sound quality aside, I like the direction the group is moving in and highly recommend you check it out for yourself at http://shade.bandcamp.com/album/latonka


Shade – Forever (Bracken Records)


Pittsburgh’s finest post-punk-shoegaze-whatever group are back with another limited run two-song single for British indie Bracken Records. A-side “Forever” has exactly the type of swaggering rock Shade does best, with a memorable chorus that most bands would give their left Converse for (though I’m pretty sure Ambulance LTD’s lawyers would have something to say about the vocal melody lift from “Heavy Lifting”). Organ-led B-side, “You Are The Racer”, is moodier, but still enticing; splitting time evenly between the Sunset Strip in 1967 and Manchester in 1979. This is yet more good stuff from one of the more promising young bands in the country.

Shade – Fedra (Lovely Recordings)


When you your band’s website address is http://www.shaderocks.com you better damn well rock, and I’m happy to report that the seven-song Fedra EP by Shade is up to the task. The band’s music would probably be associated with the “newgaze” scene, but at their core is a hard-driving rock band that accomplishes in three-to-four minute songs what other half-lidded indie-rock groups take five-to-eight minutes to do. You’ll hear Ride and Swervedriver’s influence (there’s a song called “Swervebaby”) in Matthew Stuart and David Woods’ guitar playing and in the vocals, but the band eschews gloomy narcotic noodling in exchange for cocky energetic rock. There’s even times, especially on the swaggering opener “240 Roll Out,” that the rhythm section of Brad Kiefer and Dave Halloran reminds me of The Strokes. “Gunner” rules the day with its “wall of noise” guitars, trippy keyboards, and insistent back-beat groove, but the whole EP plays like a collection of singles. Things end nicely (and too quickly) with a Velvet Underground-inspired ballad called “Slowfire” that builds to a beautiful noisy send-off. For some insane reason the band has made the entire EP available as a free download at http://www.opusoneproductions.com/ShadeMP3 so go there…….now.