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Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Shrag: Canines (Fortuna Pop!, 2012)

Pocos albumes dejan entrever tan claramente el espíritu con el que nos vamos a encontrar tan sólo con los primeros acordes del primer tema. Tears of a landlord, tras un largo preludio, es el primer corte de Canines, el tercer álbum de Shrag (Sussex Heights Roving Artists Group), y el que nos deja bien a las claras con lo que nos encontraremos: espíritu ochentero, restos de la Nueva Ola, cierta energía Pop-Punk y desde luego un extraño sentido del humor. Por cierto, el tema que mejor resume todo ésto de lo que hablo es la tremenda No more memories, de largo la mejor canción de todo el disco.
Desarrollado a través de sus once temas, Canines discurre armonicamente entre el espíritu de The Fall y el de B-52´s. Una banda divertida que no necesariamente tiene por qué facturar temas divertidos. Con la pega de no tener un sencillo realmente convincente, los estribillos de Canines sin embargo, son lo suficientemente adictivos como para mantener la atención en su escucha.

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With an existence that spans nearly a decade and a list of releases as long as both arms put together, Brighton’s Shrag are entering the stage where folks might describe them as veterans of the DIY/lo-fi indie circuit. Although such talk paints a wholly false picture of a band whose members have barely passed their mid-twenties, Shrag do seem to have been around forever.
Not that we’re complaining, of course. Since being proverbially slapped around the face by their live show in the summer of 2008 at Indietracks Festival, DiS has kept its ear to the ground on Shrag’s activities ever since. Whereas 2009’s self-titled debut sparked with youthful exuberance and uncontrollable angst, the follow-up 18 months later hinted at a band under development yet making significant inroads as both songwriters and arrangers. Fusing their trademark ramshackle pop with lavish strings in places, it represented a marked departure from Shrag’s earlier output, while laying the foundations for its successor. 
Having spent the best part of last year writing then recording album number three, Canines is finally upon us. It was recorded at the Gargleblast Studios in Hamilton with producer Andy Miller, whose previous credits including Life Without Buildings’ Any Other City and Mogwai’sThe Hawk Is Howling. While no trace of any grandiose post rock leanings exist throughout the 11 songs that make up Canines, there’s little evidence of the frantic, happy-go-lucky dissonance that permeates Shrag’s live performances either. Instead the band have delivered a more mature record here than either of its predecessors, even though some of the song titles may be a little misleading on that front (‘Show Us Your Canines’, ‘Jane With Dumbbells’).
“We all look good in black and white!” declares Helen King on the haughty ‘Chasing Consummations’, arguably the standout moment here. Vocally caught somewhere between a rap and a rant, its an infectious call-to-arms that links the band’s riotous past with a more widescreen vision mapped out for the future. ‘On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals’ takes its structural blueprint from Le Tigre’s ‘Decepticon’, engulfing it in a poppier sheen that wouldn’t sound out of place on a daytime radio schedule. Seriously.
Parts of Canines recall the Shrag of old. ‘Show Us Your Canines’ doffs its cap to the likes of Heavens To Betsy and Henry’s Dress, while recent single ‘Tendons In The Night’ combines bucketloads of raucous energy with a sassy veneer that occasionally resembles The Fall in their studious rockabilly phase if re-imagined by The B-52s. ‘Devastating Bones’ too dares to tread where few have gone since 1973; glam rock; and even though we’d rather not reference The Glitter Band in our appraisal, one can’t help picturing the ‘Leader Of The Gang’ stomping around in a silver jumpsuit to its infectious, rabble-rousing chorus.
Most of Canines second half finds Shrag in a more reflective, and somewhat pensive mood. ‘That’s Static!’ and ‘Flinching At Forever’ reference things that keep you warm and people who drink gin on trains respectively, while both keeping their intuitive cards close to one another’s chests. The closing ‘Jane With Dumbbells’ might just be the most maudlin piece of music Shrag have ever recorded. Laying their souls bare for all to say, its a gorgeous strings-soaked lament clocking in at 13 seconds short of five minutes, maybe setting the tone for the next venture in the process.
Minor flaws aside, largely due to the record’s slightly adventurous identity crisis, Canines is two-thirds the record Shrag have been hinting at making for the best part of five years now. With a bit more TLC and fine tuning around the edges, their piece de resistance may well be just around the corner. Promisingly steadfast” (drownedinsound.com)

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26 marzo, 2013 Posted by | Shrag | Deja un comentario

Shrag: Life! Death! Prizes! (2010)

 

Hay días en los que un acontecimiento inesperado o una noticia, no por menos esperada, es capaz de alegrarte la existencia o incluso tu ritmo de vida. Si además éllo coincide con una determinada melodía o música, entonces el flechazo es instantáneo y esa música problablemente pasará a formar parte de la banda sonora de tu vida, o al menos de tus siguientes días. Algo así es lo que nos pasó a nosotros con este segundo disco de Shrag, y algo así es lo que nos ha sucedido en el día de hoy. La ecografía que anuncia el nacimiento de mi primera hija, se ha unido a una noticia que nos ha alegrado el día en tanto en cuanto supone mi recuperación normal de un problema físico que me había afectado hace unos meses. Este alta definitiva ha sido la segunda gran alegría del día. Y la banda sonora que hemos elegido para acompañar estas maravillosas noticias ha sido un disco que está cargado de sentimientos positivos y alegres, el segundo álbum de esta banda de Brighton llamada Shrag: Life! Death! Prizes! Hasta el título nos da más o menos una idea de lo positivo de sus pensamientos, al equiparar tanto vida como muerte con premios. Yendo a lo que nos importa (seguro que a vosotros no os importa que haya mezclado mi vida personal con la crítica de discos), Shrag ha sabido incorporar esa característica natural que tienen en el Reino Unido para unir dos tendencias: El Post-Punk digamos algo más gamberrete, con el Pop desenfadado de toda la vida. Vamos, algo así a lo que hacían bandas como The B-52´s en los ochenta, o The Delgados o Bis en los noventa, sólo que actualizando sus puntos de vista. El paralelo más cercano lo encontraríamos en los suecos Los Campesinos. Ambos grupos han facturado álbumes largos, en los que predomina esa visión desenfadada y positiva del mundo, cargándola, claro está, de cierta mala leche en algunos momentos, y de algo de rudeza sonora. En este Life! Death! Prizes!, Shrag han optado por la línea de construir un todo más o menos homogéneo, alejándose algo de su primer disco, en el que encontrábamos singles potenciales por doquier. Aquí la variedad de ritmos es grande: desde los ritmos más “furiosos” de A certain violence, Stubborn or bust, o More than mornings a la tranquilidad de Furnishings, Coda, o la mejor del disco, la “Jangle” Tights in August, el disco está preñado de grandes canciones en los que la ironía y el buen humor de Shrag se hacen latentes a cada momento. Buen disco.

Shrag – Life! Death! Prizes! (2010)

“Shrag take their name from an apartment block in their hometown of Brighton, England. According to an interview the quintet did this summer with the blog Rhubarb Bomb, one of the band members lived in a building called Sussex Heights, so their unusual moniker is really an acronym for “Sussex Heights Roving Artist Group.” Not exactly the kind of thing you imagine they settled on expecting to have to market it all these years later to a wider audience. Was this Joy Division? Not at all. The Desperate Bicycles? Shampoo? Bis? Getting warmer…
Shrag’s self-titled debut album was the result of a similarly haphazard process, and it turned out to be one of last year’s most enjoyable indie pop releases. Scruffy, heartbroken, and genuinely communicative at a time when bands are increasingly getting by on mood or genre signifiers alone, Shrag collected some of the well-crafted, cleverly affecting singles and mp3s the band had quietly offered up in the past few years, including “Hopelessly Wasted”, “Forty Five 45s”, and (for those of us still too freaked out by adulthood to become parents) “Pregnancy Scene”. With Life! Death! Prizes!, Shrag attempt a sophomore LP that works more like an album than a collection of singles, and they mostly succeed.
When they’re doing tightly coiled pop songs that could stand beautifully on their own, the group– now two women and three men, following former drummer Leigh-Ann’s illness-related departure– can be quite charming. Keyboard-streaked and punk-spiked, boy-girl duets “Tights in August” and “Rabbit Kids” are as catchy and upbeat as the feelings they express are confused and conflicted: “Your love is like your August tights/ It looks all right, but they’re impractical tonight.” Slowing it down but not turning off the distortion for “Their Stats”, Life! Death! Prizes! scores another potential alternate-universe hit, a jagged, jerking anxiety attack that feels like the apt product of a time when “friendship” has become nothing but a number on a Facebook scorecard.
Like so many indie bands’ second albums, though, Life! Death! Prizes! suffers just a little from having to be conceived during a year or so rather than a lifetime. The shouty “Faux-Coda” (“miraculous, still not over”) and plaintive, poignant “Coda” (“It was a terrible year, though”) are endearing and, production-wise, miles ahead of the band’s past work, but they don’t have the direct-hit impact of Shrag’s “Talk to the Left” or “Mark E. Smith”. They feel like, well, album tracks. That’s fine– they support the record’s overall flow– but it’s still difficult for them to stand out in the crowded field of bands reminiscent of the UK’s first big do-it-yourself wave. And the distinctive, much-needed female perspective on the indie scene shown in past singles like “Different Glue” is no longer much in evidence, either. Whether they were planning on it or not, Shrag deserve their own chance to reach a bigger audience, only for now, they’re a slightly better singles group than albums group. Given indie pop’s 7″ culture and their own humble origins, it sort of suits them” (pitchfork.com)

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16 noviembre, 2010 Posted by | Shrag | 3 comentarios

Shrag: Tights in August (Single, 2010)

La banda de Brighton Shrag edita en breve nuevo álbum, Life! Death! Prizes! (2010), un disco en el que inciden en esa peculiar forma de ver el Pop, de manera desenfadada, incluso algo naif. Algo parecido al sonido que facturan The Hi-Life Companion, por hacernos una idea. Pop del que gusta por estos lares, compaginando voces chica-chico con unas preciosas guitarras jangle y un gran sentido del humor. El single lo ofrece su compañía, WIAIWYA, en descarga legal gratuita. No deberías perdértelo.

Shrag – Tights in August (2010)

“Here’s a FREE download of TIGHTS IN AUGUST, to whet your appetite for the new SHRAG album – “Life! Death! Prizes! – out October 4th 2010.
It’s a summer SMASH, all EDWYN COLLINS and CLARE GROGAN fronting CAMERA OBSCURA… it’ll only be up here until the end of August, so tell your friends, add it to mix tapes, play it in clubs, and pre order the album
HERE (wiaiwya.com)

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24 agosto, 2010 Posted by | Shrag | Deja un comentario

   

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