Shook Ones - The Unquotable A.M.H. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Shook Ones

The Unquotable A.M.H. (2009)

Paper + Plastick

I'll be honest: Despite the particularly positive remarks for their various outputs (splits with Easel and End of a Year, a 7-inch, throw in a full-length or two), Shook Ones essentially did nothing for me. I'm sure it doesn't help that the whole Kid Dynamite / Lifetime rehashing that so many melodic hardcore bands seem to think is a good idea, makes me cringe. Blasphemy, I say! But being the awesome guy that I am, I gave The Unquotable A.M.H. a fair spin and what an omnipotent oscillation that disc was in; sure, the vocalist sounds like the perfect blend of Ari Katz and Jason Shevchuk, but the hooks and riffs have a very different personality that I can definitely say is "pure Shook Ones."

Unlike Lifetime or Kid Dynamite, the double-time abuse is nowhere to be seen. "For Collards" does introduce the album with considerable pacing, but only to lead into the heartfelt and mid-tempo "Birds on Ice." Clearly, in "Tip the Weatherman," the Shooks are even more dynamic than their two influences, having a full verse of nothing but a guitar and vocals that seem to echo against the studio walls. In short: This is the last time I ever want to hear those three bands in the same sentence. Let's save that for describing early Saves the Day.

The first five songs are all up-tempo, indecipherable and snotty; "Silverfish" is bouncy and the band at their most anthemic, shouting "I want us all to live in 1929" after a bridge lush with "whoa"s. Most anthemic, sure, but "Equal Opportunity Insults" with its very hard rock edge and breakdown and single note section to match, the band never really steps down from rousing tunes. The pinnacle of The Unquotable A.M.H. is "For Flannel," which has the most infectious melody on the album over-top a really fucking satisfying chord progression. This is the poppiest endeavor for sure; the octaves and vocal harmonies in the outro are just evidence they know how to write a downright catchy song.

While the first half is immediately accessible, the second is a grower that experiments more with riffs and song lengths that will render a subsequent "warming up to" in no time. The "Who told Omar?" riff is pretty ballsy, eventually leading into a speedy overdubbed, double-stop solo. "Double-Knot That" and "T-Monk" are minor, melancholic and slightly monotone, recalling some Jawbreaker moments and "They're Very 'Yes'" has a sugary opening riff that does, admittedly, come very close to self-titled-era Lifetime. To my disappointment, they don't go back to the riff until the end and it doesn't quite sound as cool as it could have. Their magnum opus, the aforementioned "Tip the Weatherman" is a tame tune that builds into a solid closing to the album and an extended drum outro.

Though sounding a bit "samey" the first run through, The Unquotable A.M.H. is proving to the punk world that Shook Ones aren't a Kid Dynamite cover band -- that they have an identity. That same identity has some of the catchiest moments of 2009.