Song of the day: Shake Some Action! – "Full Fathom Five"

February 23, 2013

I was contacted by a not-entirely-Australian chappy called James (Hi, James!). He’s not entirely Australian because he’s currently living in the land of Americans as the main dude in a band called Shake Some Action!.

(More information about James you may not be interested in: James grew up in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, the state I live in, and moved to Seattle in 2001, where he’s been a-livin’ and a-playin’.)

If you’re a fully-fledged, card-carrying power-pop fan, then you’ll instantly know why James called his band Shake Some Action!.

James told me about his Shake Some Action’s latest album, Full Fathom Five, and imprudently asked for my thoughts on it.

Here they are:

Shake Some Action! – Full Fathom Five (2013)

1. “Lost In Space

I like the enthusiasm of this song, but for me there’s not much melody to hang on to. Those 12-string Rickenbacker guitars are catnip for power pop fans, but they’re not bewitching me because there are no memorable melodies or harmonies on top of them. Well, that’s what I think anyway.

2. “Nothing Can Stop Me Now

Groovy drums to begin the song. And more catnip! I like the psychedelic singing. It’s druggy, maaaaaan. (“Cool out, daddy-o. You don’t get our scene.”) I also like the “Ooh la la”s in the middle eight of the song (1:26-1:38). I’m guessing that’s the middle eight, because it’s the only time those “Ooh la la”s appear.

I preferred this track to the opening one because I enjoyed the melodies more.

By the way I’m about make a recommendation. I’m not a fan of acronyms, so I won’t type RIYL. I’ll type the actual words instead, after the next paragraph.

Here’s my recomendation: if you like this particular song, then I’d like to point you in the direction of Australian band Deep Sea Arcade. They have an album full of this kind of thing. This is a representative track.

So, Deep Sea Arcade are recommended if you like “Nothing Can Stop Me Now”.

I think I should get back to the Shake Some Action! album…

3. “Soul On Fire

Another groovy track. This time it’s courtesy of the bass line. I wouldn’t mind grabbing my bass and playing that myself.

This is my bass:

So I’d be playing the riff on that.

If you’re a musician, and you’re wondering why my bass looks a bit weird (i.e., not quite right), it’s because I’m left-handed, and play left-handed, but with the strings strung for a right-handed bass. My bass has a body for a left-handed player, and a neck that was originally on a right-handed bass. The right-handed bass that neck came from was what I learned to play on, but I played it left-handed because… well, because I’m left-handed.

(Note to self: Stop getting sidetracked, Peter. Get back to the song.)

I was surprised at the slightly sharp singing at 0:37 and even sharper at 0:42-0:44, because up until then the singing had been fine.

At the rate I’m writing this “review”, I will have spent all day on it. I need to speed things up.

4. “Lost Without You

Well, so far I’ve liked the first three songs on this album. What about this one? I’ll press “play” and…

With its 12-string Rickenbacker guitar introduction, followed by a harmonised vocal melody with an acoustic-guitar-and-simple-beat accompaniment, this sounds very Merseybeat circa mid-’60s. I was enjoying being immersed in that soundscape (can you call Merseybeat a “soundscape”?) enormously, but I was brought out of it with flat singing from 1:13-1:15. Then I was brought right back to Earth with a big thud with some really dodgy singing from 1:22-1:24. I actually groaned when I heard it. (I was surprised James left that in.)

I’m spending way too much time complaining about someone’s singing (which, incidentally, even when it’s bad, is still better than mine). The short response to this song is:

I like it a lot – iffy singing notwithstanding.

5. “I Didn’t Know What To Say

Ha! If you’ve ever wondered what a combination of “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” would sound like, then wonder no more.

Splendid.

Although, not so splendid was an aspect of the guitar solo (1:22-1:39) that irritated me. The bent notes weren’t bent enough for me. (I kept wanting them to go just a little higher.) And The bent notes at the end (1:38-1:39) were nowhere near high enough for my liking.

Ah well. It’s only a song. A song from 1963.

6. “Full Fathom Five

Yep. I like this one as well.

James’ voice in this song reminds me of the guy in They Might Be Giants. What’s his name? Isn’t it John something? There are two Johns in They Might Be Giants, aren’t there? Hang on…

OK. James’ voice in “Full Fathom Five” reminds me of John Linnell from They Might Be Giants. But it’s not as nasal as Mr. Linnell’s, which means I enjoy James’ voice more.

I wasn’t going to say anything else about this song, because I enjoyed it, but as a bass player I’m compelled to state a grievance:

I think there are some poor note choices by the bass player from 1:27-1:33. (Some of those notes are just plain wrong.)

Trivia: The solo guitar and the chords played underneath it from 2:47-2:51 reminded me of the Hoodoo Gurus’ “What’s My Scene”.

7. “Shining Star

Nice. And by “nice” I mean the guitar riff. Nice.

I like this – apart from some of the lyrics (e.g., “No matter where you are, you’re a shining star” and “you knock me out” etc.).

8. “The Girl With The Sun In Her Eyes

The title of this song immediately reminded me of “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” by Kate Bush. Pardon me as I sigh when I remember “The Man With The Child In His Eyes”. Sigh…

Sorry about this. I’m going to have to listen to that Kate Bush song. I won’t be long…

OK. I’ve just listened to “The Man With The Child In His Eyes” (sigh). What a song.

Now back to this Shake Some Action! album…

I’m listening to “The Girl With The Sun In Her Eyes” now, and that vocal melody sure sounds like I’ve heard it somewhere else.

All this 12-string Rickenbacker action (especially from 2:07-2:29 in this song) is reminding me of The Turnback and their 2011 album, Drawn In Chalk.

9. “Underneath The Waves

For me, the opening riff of this song came perilously close to the riff in Deep Purple’s “Black Night”. But then the rest of the band joined in and it became another Merseybeat/mid-1960s-inspired song (i.e., not Deep Purple).

10. “When The Sun Shines

Another retro song – which is fine by me, because I’m enjoying this album a fair bit.

By the way, James’ voice in this song, and in most of the other ones, reminds me a lot of Andrew Cox from Australian band The Fauves.

I liked the Hammond organ solo (1:58-2:16). Groovy.

Oh, before I forget: the opening line (“Every night I see her through my window”, from 0:15-0:19) sounds a bit stalker-ish to me.

But I like the song.

11. “Rivers Of My Mind

Mmm: jangle.

Here’s another example of a song title reminding me of another song. This time, “Rivers Of My Mind” made me think of “The Canyons Of My Mind” which, musically at least, is not all that similar to this song.

Speaking of reminders, at 2:03/04 in this song James sings the word “cellophone”. The Turnback (that band I mentioned when commenting on track 8) have a song called “Cellophane Sky“. So maybe James is familiar with The Turnback. Or not.

12. “The Way You Make Me Feel

Another early Beatles homage.

I’m enjoying this a lot.

And yes, the title did remind me of this.

13. “Tomorrow

I like this. Don’t love it, but I like it.

14. “Shotgun

This one was a little more Creedence Clearwater Revival than The Beatles. I didn’t mind it.

***

Given that I wasn’t a huge fan of the last two tracks, I’d say this album would have been better at 12 tracks. But it’s pretty good anyway.

Peter’s Final Verdict: I heartily endorse this album.*

Finished!

(*With apologies to Art Linkletter.)

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