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Legendary Shack Shakers | Believe | review | rock | Lollipop

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers

Believe (Yep Roc)
by Ari M. Joffe

It's been a hectic year for Col. JD Wilkes and his fellow Shack Shakers. They've toured the U.S. and Europe numerous times, switched record labels, recorded a new album, sold a song for use in a car insurance commercial, and left countless gallons of sweat, spit, and grease strewn across every stage they've damaged. Prior to the recording of Believe, badass guitarist Joe Buck (JD's former right hand man) left the band in what, according to Internet rumors, was not the most amicable of splits. To some fans, this departure is on the level of Keith leaving the Stones. Buck played a huge role in not only Th' Legendary Shack Shakers' sound, but their wild-as-hellbilly image.

On the new album, Buck has been replaced with not one, but two competent guitarists: David Lee and Nick Kane. Both play with a more textured feel than Buck, but manage to keep things nice and gritty when necessary (noticeably, the guitars are mixed rather low on a few cuts, with other instruments like bass, horns, and JD's harmonica taking up more space). It works well, mainly because the songwriting on Believe is so strong. Bassist Mark Robertson stepped up to the plate as producer, and along with drummer Pauly Simmonz and numerous guest horn and fiddle players, the band has created an album just as raw as their previous album, Cockadoodledon't, but with a bit more finesse and wider arrangements. They've expanded their blues-punk sound, incorporating elements of Stax style funk ("Piss and Vinegar"), kletzmer ("Agony Wagon"), and country waltz ballads ("Pony to Bet On"). It all adds up to a successful title defense by the current champions of boogie.

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