Shang-a-Lang - Collection (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Collection (2010)

Silver Sprocket / Facepalm

Hey. Word has it that for some reason you haven't collected Shang-a-Lang's entire non-LP discography up until this point. That's messed up, dude. But there's a quick fix for that problem now, and it doesn't require a crate full of vinyl splits, comps and 7-inches. It's in the format of a convenient compact disc (though also available on wax) and is simply called Collection. Go pick it up from your local indie store now and all past transgressions will be forgiven.

For those unfamiliar, Las Cruces, NM's Shang-a-Lang plays a fast, garage-y brand of pop-punk somewhat similar to fellow New Mexico torchbearers Scared of Chaka. This comparison is particularly salient on tracks like "Five Long Years" and "Nothin' I Can Do," with catchy, distorted melodies atop rough guitars that maneuver efficiently between chord progressions and punctual choruses that don't dominate the song's pop appeal.

Album opener "Friends Grow Up" from Shang-a-Lang's debut 7-inch Error: You Cannot Add Yourself as a Friend and cheery garage-punk number "Summertime" from the 7-inch of the same name are among some of the album's best tracks. Most of the songs seem fairly jaded, and the lyrics insert (which doesn't actually have any lyrics at all) describes themes ranging from frontman Chris Mason's falling out with friends and losing faith to acceding to alcohol and nicotine habits. There's also an ebullient cover of Lou Reed's "I'm So Free," which translates remarkably well from the cocky proclamations of the original to Shang-a-Lang's slapdash style.

The only legitimate complaint that could be leveled against this release is its rather boring title. Why not Sing-a-long with Shang-a-Lang if not Shanghaied in Shang-Ri-La: The Songs of Shang-a-Lang? Eh, I guess Collection works too.

Packing in a healthy 22 songs in just under 40 minutes, Shang-a-Lang gives an ample snapshot of their past three years on this release. Mastered by Dave Eck at Lucky Lacquers (who incidentally also did the recently reviewed Executioner 7-inch), the audio quality effectively captures the frenzied fun of the band without sterilizing it at all. Independent punk rock is alive and well, and nowhere more clear than on this release.