We’ve heard whispers about Shake Chain, from London, for a couple of months. We were recently passed a snippet of live video that suggests this band will be super entertaining live. Members Chris Hopkins and Robert Eyre also feature in Basic Hinge, Rodents, The Bin Bags and Dead Arm.
Shake Chain have just dropped this hilariously titled four song EP, courtesy of the ever-reliable label Permanent Slump. It was recorded the same day Neil Young and Bob Dylan played at Hyde Park, hence the bastardised title. Beginning on an ominous pulse Highly Conceptual is a woozy opener with the pace and sickening motion of a rocking boat.
Robert Eyre’s jarring guitar work and Jenna Finch’s straightforward drums provide the dynamic shifts, synths bubble underneath while Kate Mahony’s vocals range from drunken slurs to ecstatic atonal shrieking.
It’s a powerful introduction that sets the tone for the following three tracks.
Big On The Straight’s vibrato keyboard and great bouncing bassline by Chris Hopkins are reminiscent of The Fall’s sound in the early 80s. The utter monotony and confusion of the lyrics is fantastic “extensions, islands, floorboards, loft conversions, I’ve got three bathrooms, have I got there yet?”. The big dumb shout along chorus crashes in, rudely upsetting the rhythm, like that person who suddenly arrives three hours late to parties and sparks them into life.
Copy Me is short and sweet at just over two minutes. It bounces along in a similar vain to label mates Life Drawings, but with ants in its pants. The guitar work, however, hints that the structure is about to be smashed to bits, which is of course fulfilled in the utterly bonkers chorus. Mahony’s vocal performances really are so unique. Her anti-singing is what sets Shake Chain apart from anyone else, yet also what will no doubt divide opinion (for the record, we’re of the opinion they’re great).
It’s frantic, vicious, a hell of a lot of fun and probably the highlight of the set.
The production lends itself really well, with the guitars super scratchy and drums allowed to peak.Final track Architecture is a pissed jam with a fuzzed up bassline, warped keyboard and disco-not-disco drums. Seemingly about the trials and tribulations of an architecture and design student, it descends into madness with the chorus “Aim high, got cash, aim high, get cash” repeated at various speeds by the four band members, out of time clapping and the synth fizzing and burbling freeform.
Chaotic, unhinged, with a knack for great simple hooks and unexpected shifts this EP leaves us eager to hear more from Shake Chain.
You may enjoy this if you like: The Fall, Bardo Pond, Sniffany & The Nits, Deaf Surf, Child’s Pose, Sauna Youth