Album Review: Legendary Shack Shakers – The Southern Surreal
The Legendary Shack Shakers can fill a room with sound. They have a full band and a bad attitude that oozes through on every track. It’s a little bit southern rock, a little bit rootsy Americana music, and at times pure adrenaline. Take the Marshall Tucker Band and give them just a little bit more rootsy country flavor and you have the Legendary Shack Shakers.
The second track “Mud” has the repetitive “get on down the road” lyric that feels like it’s been trudging down a dirt road. The song introduces yet another hard driving rhythm on “Miss America.” It’s the kind of song that seems to be about something really deep, even if it’s not immediately important. It’s almost certainly a sardonic title about the foolishness of life in America today. That said, the pure rock and twangy guitars come together for something more alt rock than anything close to Americana. It reminds me of the Drive By Truckers, but harder.
“Let the Dead Bury the Dead” is a biblical reference in a decidedly non-gospel song. The rhythm feels like an exotic tune with a Latin flair. The complicated, strange feeling conjured by the song is hard to explain. The impassioned lyricism in the bridge is really phenomenal; it almost feels like a theatrical piece in the middle of a really raw record.
“Young Heart, Old Soul” sounds like a 1950s rock tune. There’s even a bangin’ piano and a horn section. The whole composition is clearly completed by someone who has experience with the gamut of American music tradition. It sounds like Jerry Lee Lewis is on piano and Boots Randolph is on sax. What an incredible recording.
For something different, “Down to the Bone” is an old time blues track. “I wanna make music in the days long after I’m gone…” has a dark connotation to it. The whole song reflects a sort of Robert Johnson’s crossroads feeling. The guitar work on this one is almost understated, but stick with it and the players make it totally worth your time. The irreverent “Christ Allrighty” follows it. In some ways the two songs play into each other. Using similar blues chording, the tune is sped up nicely with a good bit of attitude and anger.
The final track “Born Under a Bad Sign” seems to throw in all of the previously mentioned elements. There’s even an accordion. The sound is blues and country and layered sounds unlike any I’ve heard before. It has a creepy connotation to it throughout, but the song is a great way to end the album. All told, it’s the capstone to an unconventional album.
The Legendary Shack Shakers may not be for everyone, but they are certainly talented musicians. Each track takes listeners on an adventure. Each track unpacks a new feeling and snarky assessment of the world today. That said, fans of alt country and even some Americana will find a lot to enjoy on this album. It’s complicated and full of grit.