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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Shoes October 6, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Been listening to a fair bit of power-pop recently, and surely no group is more power-poppy than US outfit from Zion, Illinois, Shoes (well okay, Cheap Trick). Though one could say this is one of the best groups that too few people have heard. Very highly critically regarded, their first phase was in the 1970s and 1980s, and they’re still floating around. Jeff Murphy, John Murphy, Gary Klebe and Skip Meyer were the original iteration and that lasted well into the 1980s if I recall correctly. I’ve only two of their albums, their first and second major label excursions, Present Tense and Tongue Twister.

For those who like Big Star, or Teenage Fanclub, Squeeze or even at a stretch The Only Ones, their sound will not be unfamiliar, but there’s a softness to the lead vocals and harmonies and arrangement which means that the points where they rev up the guitars are all the more striking. Oddly, or not, they remind also of slightly less speedy mid period Undertones who were producing similarly concise and poppy tracks at much the same time.

There’s a pared back aspect to their songs, the elements are perfectly assembled, melodic, but carefully rationed out and in such a way that then contemporary influences are brought to the fore. This is doubly evident on tracks like Tomorrow Night which have guitar lines that sound almost new wave. Yet unlike contemporaries The Records, a group who had some genuinely brilliant moments, the guitar avoids abrasiveness in favour of a restrained power – and yet, I can hear the Ramones in the mix as well (Cruel You).

And where they do rock a bit harder – as with She Satisfies on 1980s Tongue Twister – and note the huskier vocals on that album, there’s a similar atmosphere of restraint which somehow avoids sounding as if they’re pulling their punches.

Robert Christgau wrote:

A formalist’s delight–the three principals pursue their theme of Sad Love as obsessively as a cavalier writing sonnets to his lady. Their voices are interchangeably breathy, their tempos unflappably moderate, their guitar hooks unfailingly right. And when for a change of pace one of them sounds bitter the effect is as startling as a Johnny Ramone guitar solo. A-

Pretty great.

Too Late

Tomorrow Night

Three Times

Cruel You

Your Very Eyes

She Satisfies

When It Hits

Your Imagination

Too Late (promo)


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