What does Shady Bug sound like?
Chaotic and detuned indie rock with a shoegazing element behind pixie twangs.
The review of Shady Bug – What’s The Use?
Shoegazey indie rock with total pessimism. Name me a more iconic duo. This is the angle for Shady Bug’s latest release ‘What’s The Use?’. The trio from St Louis, Missouri have decided that this time around, they’d like to create an indie rock album where the lyrics, chords and general performance should be a little more ramshackle.
Opening with the fast-paced and skittish ‘zero expectations’, Hannah delightful pokes fun at everyday advice. “Drink more water, wear more sunscreen” yet she’s crossed all these things off the list and everything is still a bit shit. This eye roll as a song is backed up excellently by Ripple and Chris playing with organised dishevelment. Chords bend out of tune. Drums scatter a little like bowling pins. Everything is tonally present and correct but it rolls around for fun. This dual guitar slightly out-of-tune minor collision is a staple across the album. ‘popsicle’ does it in the verses with pixie-plucked guitar verses before going hard with power chords for the chorus. The energetic surge for the big chorus is an album highlight and the track is constantly shapeshifting itself. Similarly ‘frog baby’ that proceeds it reminds of Presidents of the USA. The rock and roll the punchy production and performance is… just with added dissonance. It works well and gives Shady Bug a ton of sloppy personality. Tired of all but raging.
The second half of the release has Shady Bug diverge into different indie rock sounds. ‘favor’ is a playful riot that tinkers with playful country twangs, wooden blocks and silly noises around some big energy. It all comes together in a lazy sludge of guitar solos and disenchanted vocals for a satisfying conclusion. ‘waking up hot’ is a gazing blur of guitar and vocal layers like a desert mirage. The song is abstract rock ambience and hazy psychedelia combined into a short art piece. That brings us to the six-and-a-half minute closer ‘lizard’. Oddly, this is the track where all the crazy tiredness peels away and we have a track that grows into a powerhouse over its runtime. Early on its calm bass led melodies sound almost like cocktail bar rock but by the time it reaches a fully plugged instrumental outro, you feel like the track is fully formed. Its a lesson in patience and song block building and each time I’ve listened to this track, the big finale feels so earned.
With their focus on veering off chords and course with their music, Shady Bug embodies the album’s helplessness. It feels tired and knackered but also like it’s getting up to mischief at the same time. When playing the game of tired music, you can also risk sounding bored or uninterested but Shady Bug avoids that by keeping each track evolving and ever-changing. At a tight 20 minutes, I feel like I’ve flipped the bird at the world and had a little rock dance and cry too. A lovely gem that deceptively more caring about its sound than it lets on.
Recommended track: zero expectations
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