by Cristian Andersson
There seems to be a couple of directions a band can go when putting out a twenty-two minute album like Oshkosh-based band Shoobie just did. It could be a tight and concise, singular statement that runs from start to finish, or it can be a place for bands to play and experiment. Shoobie went the later direction, and put out one great record.
Bookend tracks (Intro and Outro) are keyboard instrumental tracks that could seem simple if not for the experiments in distortion. Intro is a plunky affair that plays perfectly into guitars that chug in and around a tight rhythm section while lyrics filled with existential turmoil and brilliant delivery ultimately give way to two minutes of coursing instrumental: heavy and hypnotic, lurching... with hungry guitars in the track Teeth. A stand-out track.
, Pt. 1 pushes into even heavier and darker territory, with guitars and drums bursting with feroci.... wait. A laid-back (?) day? The track alternates between doom and easy comfort like some bizarre train ride that sails through vistas of hazy grays and blues with intermittent moments of passing through long tunnels of hellish landscape with ghoulish howls and demonic pounding.
The mash-up of punk, metal, and psychedelia continues into Grave Wax, where vocals return–clean up front and gutteral in end. The music is a start-stop affair before dropping into that churn. The way Shoobie has been playing with time signatures, distortion, and style; doses of anger and ferocity, sparse moments of calm, anxiety... and then I look over at the jacket cover featuring a reproduction of a painting by artist Chad Wilkinson portraying the shadow of a fiend that threatens a cowaring child who was probably just crying into that stuffed bear toy... this record is playing all too perfectly into a dystopian present that we seem to be drifting into. And it isn’t even half done yet.
, Pt. 2 (IMPROV) is a beautiful enigma of a track. Another instrumental that I’d love to see live, and maybe take it’s 2 minute mark into a 2o minute exursion. There is some fantastic studio magic happening on this one.
Some Nylon Thread, is the longest track on the album, and perhaps the most straight-forward. That isn’t a slight on it, at all, because it rips. Lyrics reach out... if Teeth was an bemoaning isolationist, Some Nylon Thread is looking for commanality on this glorious hellride. A hope that, even if everything is incredibly fucked, that at least they are not alone. The musicianship is exquisite: drums, guitar, bass, synth, totally on point. With All In A Wooden Box it is apparant immediately that this is the track that gets everyone moving at the live show. And it seems a bit (in spite of the title) to be brighter. The guitar is a little more jangly. The synths soar. The fight between almost sunny instruments and the darker lyrics on this track reminds me of when Patrick Stickles decided to put out a good song.
I heard they pressed 100 copies of What’s Left?, and I suggest you walk down to your local record shop and find one. Shoobie is: Parker Sweeney, Isaac Lamers, Nick Matteson, Leah David, and Nick Morrissey. It was mastered at Signature Tone Recording by Adam Tucker, and it sounds amazing. Support local, especially when they are this good.
Cristian Andersson is a painter and a performance artist working out of Appleton, Wisconsin. In 2020 he co-created fsm., and is the acting as editor-in-chief.