In the Jukebox: The Shaniqua Brown & Slow Runner 

Reviews of two new local releases

The Shaniqua Brown
The Shaniqua Brown
(independent)

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We finally got our fingers on the new album by local indie rock band The Shaniqua Brown. It's not available on a slab of vinyl, as a compact disc, or a retro-cool cassette. It's not a nicely designed, properly linked web page. It's a digital compilation of nine studio cuts compiled in a folder as part of a very limited edition USB drive. This spring, the quartet issued only a small pile of 128mb USB bracelets filled with photos, songs, video, and artwork.

Specializing in a guitar-driven hybrid of post-punk, riffy stoner-rock, and squealy alternative pop, singer Rachel Gillon hollers and sings emotively and sneeringly over guitarist Thomas Concannon's distorted licks and chords through most of the album. The more swingin'/boozy-sounding selections include "Foolish Heart" and "Old Dan" (imagine The Gun Club jamming with X on nicer gear). Punkier, prog-inflicted tunes like the dynamic "Mr. Karate Face" and "The Hills of Tennessee" move with more rhythmic complexity, thanks to the swirling rock stuff of bassist Denis Blyth and drummer David Bair.

Littered with attention-grabbing wails and masculine guitar sounds, this debut is a big, stomping ass-kicker. (theshaniquabrown.com

The Shaniqua Brown perform at the Music Farm on Sat. June 19 as part of the Last Band Standing event.

Slow Runner
Ghost Rendition
(independent)

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Singer-songwriter-keyboardist Michael Flynn and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler pretty much go all synth and strings on their new three-song EP, Ghost Rendition. Known for their listing and melodic piano pop — most of which was analog/organic in nature — Slow Runner aims for a more contemporary style and a new musical dimension here.

"Rainyface" opens with a tidy disco kick drum beat and a synthesized string section as Flynn "la-la-las" his way through the first two dreamy verses. They add bits of orchestra bells, synth bass, acoustic guitar, and mandolin as the song stretches out. With its syncopated, maraca-peppered Latin-pop rhythm, the slinkier "You're All I Need" touches on Sade's elegant production style (seriously) with even more synth strings. The instrumental title track closes things on a much more ambient note. "Ghost Rendition" slowly comes to life with a gradual crescendo of submarine signals, computerized orchestral sweeps, and ominous digital textures.

Ghost Renditions emphasizes the atmospheres over the melodies. It might be a brief detour. It might signal a brand new direction. It may be the work of modern pop geniuses. (slowrunnermusic.com


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