6:28 p.m. - 2010-06-29
Memphis’ the Yazoo Shakes just managed to get their debut recording, You Get A Red Star, out this month before abruptly announcing they would be taking off a few months. Fans of the Shakes’ live shows — among the most dynamic and energetic in town — will have to console themselves with this six-song EP, a fair representation of the real deal, in the meantime.
Yazoo Shakes: "You Get a Red Star"
The Shakes are a deep fried version of Gogol Bordello, an acclaimed band originally from New York, that has pioneered the genre of Gypsy punk. Like Bordello, the Shakes incorporate a lot of Eastern European tones and abruptly shifting folk rhythms. This influence is most pronounced on the EP’s opening track, appropriately titled “Bordello.”
But where their role models also imbue their music with a manic punk energy, the Shakes prefer to bake in the sounds of the American South — the blues, country, and New Orleans jazz. The difference makes for a less-challenging-but-more-melodic listen.
And on deeper cuts like “Everyone’s Game” or closer “Seeds Of Stone,” with its haunting mid-section, the derivations and pretensions seem to melt away, exposing the genuine emotional power underneath. The artistic logic of the Shakes’ Gypsy blues may be iffy — I don’t believe any of the band’s six members are, in fact, Gypsies — but the originality of what they’re doing is hard to deny.