When someone says “Seattle scene,” my thoughts instantly jump to Nirvana, Soundgarden, and any whatever-have-you grunge band.
Flash forward to the Seattle of the 2000s, and you will find the power pop scene. In that scene, there is a wonderful band called Shake Some Action! which plays some sweet pop songs which shine like the sun in otherwise cloudy Seattle.
Sunny Days Ahead is the second album by Shake Some Action! I haven’t listened to the first, but the strength of this one makes me want to pick it up. Being part of a genre called “power pop,” Shake Some Action! is expectedly very catchy. Now, I don’t listen to super-catchy music very often, but just listening to Sunny Days Ahead makes me think this is a wrong lifestyle choice. Catchy music is amazing because it’s so happy-sounding and can really lift your mood. It’s bands like Shake Some Action! that give me faith that there are plenty of bands out there who can craft pop masterpieces, even if they mostly go unnoticed.
Shake Some Action! seem to be drawing inspiration from the Monkees, early Beatles, the Beach Boys…pretty much any super catchy ’60s music group. Now take the harder edge of the Kinks, and add it to some roughness from punk. And voila, you have their brand of power pop.
Shake Some Action! is hardly the only power pop band around, but it’s the only one I’ve heard. The music style is reminscent of early R.E.M. for being so jangly and fun, probably along the lines of R.E.M’s Life’s Rich Pageant and Green. I’m almost tempted to call them a more fun version of R.E.M that doesn’t really mess around with all the heavy and cryptic lyrics.
This album was entirely recorded by one person – James Hall, who played drums, two guitar parts, and bass for the recording. This quite impressive feat goes to show Hall’s musical talent. For live shows, Hall has recruited a band that now frequently plays shows in the Seattle area. Now, if only they got a little bigger and did a tour which came through Oklahoma.
The album is short mostly because the songs are short. These are pop songs, and are meant to be brief and fun. The lyrics don’t really talk about anything deep, but don’t mistake that to mean they don’t talk about anything meaningful. They mostly deal with the theme that makes any pop song great: love. I would call the lyrics familiar rather than cliche.
I recommend Sunny Days Ahead to anyone looking for something poppy, fast-paced, and fun. It’s easy to enjoy as there’s not really much to wrap your head around. Just sit back and have fun!
Band Name: Shake Some Action
Album Title: Self-Titled
Best Element: Songwriting skills
Label Name: Satellite 451 Records
Band Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Although recently dubbed as the worst town ever for American Idol tryouts, Seattle still has a claim to fame when it comes to the evolution of music. Not only did Seattle drive the nail home in arena rock’s coffin, but it was also home to the grunge movement that swung the hammer. Now, however, from the ashes of the self-destructive grunge lifestyle comes Shake Some Action, the brain-child of the musically gifted James Hall.
Hall knows what he can do and how to do it well. That much is obvious after one listen through of his band’s self-titled album. Featuring twelve tracks of music completely composed by Hall (though several of his live musicians contribute to tracks on the disk), Shake Some Action is a fun, light, pop-filled album built specifically to generate positive vibes.
“Sound of Your Mind” dictates the rest of the CD with its happy-go-lucky, Beatle-esque feel. Vocal harmony, tight rhythms, and well communicated emotion are all themes that repeat through the album. “Complicated” stirs up 80’s pop with a tinge of the Beach Boys as Hall belts out a simple, yet beautifully crafted mix of easy-going vocals and a high melodic lead guitar. Hall’s vocals turn husky as he drops a tear of romance on his listeners in the mellower “Orange Peel.” Ever mixing it up, Hall lets a tint of blues seep into the pot via “Damaged,” a heavier toe-tapping rocker complete with scaling vocal harmonies and a guitar solo.
A loud crash signals the start of the hip beat that comprises the backbone of “Without You,” one of the best tunes Hall offers. The songwriter’s instrumental control shines in “You’ve Got it Made” when he drops out the high vocals to allow for an epic instrumental middle that brings to mind images of driving down an endless road in a state of pure bliss.
The last tune on the disk kicks off with a shout of “1,2,3,4!” Hall and co. then rock out for the next two and half minutes, including a tinge of early 90s alternative, a blazing guitar solo and the ever-solid vocal harmonies in each singalong chorus.
As stated before, Hall knows who he is and what he is capable of. It’s no surprise that with that in mind, he also knows how to write twelve songs incapable of flaw. If there is anything wrong with this CD, it may be that it’s too happy.
Easy-going vocals, chill instrumentals, and an overall feeling of peace make this album a must-own. Regardless of what style of music you like, this album will put you in nirvana. Hall’s own words in his last song say, “It’s what you want me to do.” Well, taking the words from his mouth, buy this album. It’s what I want YOU to do.