The Shaky Hands : Lunglight

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/theshakyhandslunglight.jpg" alt=" " />The Shaky Hands have the same Achilles Heel lodged in their throats on their sophomore release, <em>Lunglight</em>....
7.4 Holocene/Kill Rock Stars
2008 

 The Shaky Hands have the same Achilles Heel lodged in their throats on their sophomore release, Lunglight. The Portland, Oregon band made waves last year with their self-titled debut (QRO review), enough to boost them from small Portland label Holocene to being shared with larger Portland label Kill Rock Stars.  The band’s jangly country-rock rhythms certainly play nice, but like on The Shaky Hands, singer Nicolas Delffs’ voice is the weak spot.

Delffs has improved upon his neo-nasal whine on The Shaky Hands, moving away somewhat from the tones of Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano or Modest Mouse’s (QRO album review) Isaac Brock.  But it still grates, and still feels like a let down amongst what could otherwise be some great songs.  The driving, expansive “We Are Young”, ominous “Neighbors”, atmospheric and swishing “World’s Gone Mad” – this early three-peat is perhaps the best example of strong material, pulled down.

Special mention – but in a good way – must be made of Colin Anderson’s drumming.  He’s able to deliver scattered, jungle beats behind opener “A New Parade”, the road-twangy “Loosen Up”, and peppier “Air Better Come” to start Lunglight.  Unfortunately, two months before the release of the record, Anderson left The Shaky Hands, and one can only wonder whether percussionist Nathan Delffs (Nicolas’ brother) can do it all on his own.

At thirteen tracks, Lunglight is bound to have some variety and some stretches, and that makes up much of its second half.  Some, like the lo-fi garage rock fun of “You’re the Light”, or the following relaxed, alt-country “Show Me Your Life” (almost a ‘poor man’s old-school Walkmen’ – QRO album review) work well, but others, like the preceding restrained guitar cut-strum “No Say” or the penultimate swingin’ little ditty “Wake the Breathing Light”, aren’t quite fully in the group’s grasp.  However, The Shaky Hands never manage to offend – not with the too long “Wake”, nor with the slower, quieter “Love All Of” that precedes it.

Given its nature, “Love” is the track on Lunglight that most displays Nicolas Delffs’ weak vocals – but also Anderson’s strong drumming.  A half step in the right direction from The Shaky Hands, here’s hoping the band doesn’t find itself two steps back.

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Album Reviews
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