Words by Will
Released: September 20, 2011
Label: self-released & produced
Wanna know a secret? (A secret you probably already know.) Growing up is shitty. It really sucks. It’s awkward, uncomfortable, and whatever other crappy adjective you can think of. I remember when I was growing up (because I am definitely not a finished product at this point), I remember the awkwardness and the lack of self-confidence (and if anyone tells you otherwise, he or she is completely full of shit). Regardless, it was a worthwhile time period. And hindsight being what it is, I completely miss those times (before I got pillaged by alcohol and student loan payments). And yes, I realize that I am sounding like a bitter old man right now. But this is my goddamn post and I will sound like whatever I fucking want to sound like. None of this ranting is meant to dissuade from the awesomeness of the music I am about to extol.
End of rant.
And here is where I finally come to the point of this post (in an extremely long-winded and self-serving manner): Growing up doesn’t have to suck. It doesn’t have to be shit. Pittsburgh’s own New Shouts prove this adage. They are aging extremely gracefully, demonstrating to their audience that evolution and change can indeed be a beautiful, beautiful thing. Without losing any of the things that made them great in the first place (wonderfully memorable choruses and retro-sounding musical stylings), New Shouts have grown up. And on their new EP Sing New Shouts, many of these grown-up tendencies are on display. The sound is crisper, the song-writing is more focused, and the choruses are catchier.
I love the band’s Facebook bio: “We wanted to be a 60′s r&b girlgroup, but couldn’t get to the 60′s and couldn’t find the girls so we decided to be a rock n’ roll band of dudes.” I love the careless, care-free attitude, but you can really tell that these guys (guitarist Cor Allen, bassist Derek White, drummer Mario White, and keys Jonathan Chamberlain) truly pay attention to their craft. And while some might argue that New Shouts are merely recycling old styles, I would counter that they are doing it better than anyone around today. It’s authentic and amazingly relevant. New Shouts are delivering music that feels remarkably fresh, and Sing New Shouts is a very exciting step in that evolution.
“Save Me,” which is one of their b-sides from earlier this year, is one of my favorite songs of the year. It still occupies a spot in the top five of my most-played list on my iPod this year. (And yes, I am the type of guy who clears his iPod plays every year to scientifically measure my most-played yearly songs.) EP opener “The Reins to Your Heart” kicks off with that familiar New Shouts awesomeness. First you get the mod-sounding guitar licks and the kick of the drum before it descends into complete retro awesomeness. And the amazing part is that there is no letdown in the entire release as one song is as awesome as the next. It’s filled with that Motown-y goodness I have come to expect from New Shouts. It also leads me even more excited for what a full-length from these guys might sound like.
The EP continues with amazing consistency and remarkable catchiness. “Stop Braggin’” hits harder than just about anything you might encounter on the radio. The opening beat/riff/sing-a-long grabs the listener immediately. And within two minutes, you are completely hooked. The song leads perfectly into “Dolly Bird,” a rocking affair that introduced me to a load of 60s slang that even my father didn’t remember. (In fact, I was greeted with the response, “What kind of weird shit are you smoking now, gomer?” Gotta love my dad pulling out the ancient Andy Griffith references while asking what kind of wackiness I was on.) The only drug in this case was New Shouts. So not only are you getting a fantastic set of seven songs, you are also getting a history lesson. And anything that encourages conversation (or belittling) is fantastic in my book and while some of us might be growing up, good music never ages (and neither do outdated insults).
Sure to get you dancing in whatever 60s style you might prefer. 10 out of 10 ancient Andy Griffith references, gomer.