The Blind Shake - Carmel (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Blind Shake

Carmel (2008)

Learning Curve

Of all the subgenres converging under the punk umbrella, garage is right up there among street punk and ska as one of the most restrictive in terms of opportunities for originality. It seems the only paths to acclaim are to either perfect the sound beyond (almost) all impurities (i.e. the Muslims, Teenage Harlets, the Heartaches) or commit to cross-pollination and hybridization. Like the noisedrone-garage-punk of the Reaction and the electro-garage-punk of Le Shok, the Blind Shake fall into the latter category.

What the Blind Shake have developed as their hybrid of choice is somewhat of a time travel machine, melding psychedelic `60s bad trips with an occasionally lashing `70s garage punk slap. Complete with echo-effect vocals and an oft-plodding, sluggish meter, tracks like "Midnight Scream" and "Jolly Joe's" are treated with a numbing finish on an otherwise lively arrangement.

Where the Blind Shake really swell to potential are the spotty garage-surf amalgamations "Broken Down Stairs" and the minute-long instrumental "Fiberglass" along with some of the more straightforward yet methodically constructed numbers like the shimmy-'n-pogo "Blue Step" and agers anthem "Been Young." The dual guitar / no bass approach of Mike and Jim Blaha allows the Blind Shake to weave jangly, multi-tonal melodies over Dave Roper's pounding percussion, while both brothers contribute vocals, though rarely combining for harmony or gang (of two) shouts.

In bonding the styles of several timeless eras in rock and roll history, the Blind Shake mostly avoids the trap of homogeneity and carbon derivation to which so many of its peers fall victim. While the experimentalism and artistic meandering might leave some restless, Carmel provides just enough spunk to keep things unique and interesting.