Sunday, March 25, 2012

SHARKS - No Gods

Imagine, if you will, that the Gaslight Anthem were British and toned down their Springsteen influences while increasing their Clash influences.What do you call the end result? SHARKS. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but that's the easiest way that I can describe the band to someone who has never heard of them before. And much like the Gaslight Anthem's debut album, Sink or Swim, the new SHARKS album, No Gods, is surprisingly seasoned sounding- coming off more as a third album than a debut. (Although I will admit that unlike the Gaslight Anthem, SHARKS have released several EPs and singles prior to recording their debut full length and that this probably plays a huge factor as to why the band sounds as tightly as they do).
Someone online said somewhere (probably Punknews)
that this cover reminded them of a cookbook cover. I can see it.

As for those Clash comparisons, I'll just come out and say it: SHARKS vocalist, James Mattock, sounds like Joe Strummer. Not an exact carbon copy, mind you (he's got a bit of a Paul Westerberg slur in there, too) but similar enough to warrant mentioning it.

Musically the band is, to make the comparison again, more in the same league as The Gaslight Anthem. SHARKS takes the sounds of the artists that influenced them (Clash, Social D, Bruce, etc), but instead of playing it exactly the same, they put a modern rock spin on it, giving the sounds a new feel rather than a direct revival of the rock and roll of the past. In contrast to their early songs, SHARKS takes a more laid-back approach on No Gods, experimenting with softer tempos and new instrumentation such as the horns on Patient Spider or the twangy Replacements-esque On a Clear Day You Can See Yourself. It's not quite a London Calling, but it's definitely at least a Give 'Em Enough Rope+.

No Gods is a solid release and pretty damn good for a debut full length. It has a few missteps- not that it has any real "bad songs" per se, but there are certain songs that are clearly better than others (for example, Turn to You isn't an awful track, it just has the misfortune of following Patient Spider), but overall SHARKS has really stepped up their game to create an enjoyable piece of work.

Things to note:
-Maybe it's just me hearing it, but track 4, On a Clear Day You Can See Yourself has this "whoa-oh-oh" thing after the chorus (so... the post-chorus, I suppose) that sounds a whole lot like the "whoa-oh-oh" from the 'Mats' classic Waitress in the Sky.
-From what I can tell, these kids are like three years younger than me. I'm jealous.
-I should point out that the Gaslight Anthem comparisons are not to say that SHARKS sound exactly like them- in fact I would say that the bands clearly have their own distinct sounds. I'm just using the comparisons because both bands are taking similar approaches to paying homage to their heroes while simultaneously creating music to be enjoyed by old and new generations alike.
-What's going on with Rise Records? They've been signing a whole lot of acts that would traditionally be more at home on Epitaph. It's almost like they're trading rosters. I'm impressed.

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