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Shade creates indefinable but majestic rock tunes on 'Latonka'

February 16, 2011

Shade’s Latonka defies easy classification. It is some sort of rock album, but it’s hard to pin down anything further than that. The album is very moody and emotional, but it tugs at the heartstrings through the brilliant intertwining of the melodic and rhythmic parts instead of dramatic builds and falls. The mix seems on first listen to be all out of order, except that on second listen it becomes clear that their mixing decisions make the album’s mood.

There are heavy, shoegaze-inspired guitars, but they don’t overpower anything. There are fast-paced drumbeats, but this isn’t a punk band. There are yelps and cries, but this isn’t any over-the-top emo band. This is a band that knew exactly what it wanted to accomplish, then went and did it.

Enough of what it isn’t. It is an incredibly emotional ride, as well as a completely unique one. It draws liberally from the best parts of post-rock, shoegaze, indie-rock, pop and even modern rock to create an amalgam that is distinctly Shade’s.

A repeated, wordless cry fading into the heavy guitars of “Chain” makes the song a haunting memory long after the tune is through. The desperate vocal performance of “Plans” contrasts against the relative calm of the arrangement in the verses; that is, before the band flips the song into a cavernous shoegaze tune for the chorus. They alternate the two for the whole song, just to mess with listeners.

The other seven tunes hold joys of their own; I would be depriving you of the joy of discovering them if I told you more. This is an album to let wash over you. It is an experience. Definitely one of the most interesting and memorable releases I’ve heard so far this year. Check out Shade’s Latonka if you’re a fan of post-rock, emotional hardcore or music that’s heavy in more than one way.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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