Shark? is a band out of Brooklyn New York but might as well be the abandoned church on the south side of town, or the garage down the street. They make songs that song like they are making them up as they go (in a good way) and do so without caring about what they look like or what scene they belong in. It’s a certain honesty that has been missing today’s rock scene. Far too often bands have too much to say and their art is sidelined. Sometimes we don’t want to hear social commentary, we just want to rock out and have a good time!
It’s with that honesty that makes their second LP “Savior” so much fun. It’s punk rock without the ham-fisted, belligerent political show boating that most punk bands feel the need to enforce like it’s their duty, and it’s punk rock without the obnoxious, tongue-in-cheek toilet humor that’s neither funny or cool, that every pop punk band promote. “Savior” is a simple record with lyrical themes ranging from boredom, heartbreak, and every other generic subject all the good pop songs are about but done in a lo-fi, loveable, innocent, Daniel Johnston meets The Strokes sort of way that’s never pretentious or heavy handed. Nothing too cryptic, or multi-layered inquisition asking us to look within ourselves for the answers to life’s many questions.
In the song “California Grrls” the burly vocalist/guitarist monotonously snarls “Black hair and black sunglasses.buying their backstage passes,don’t care who else may suffer,just wants the world to love her” making it unclear if he has tired of the ‘California girls are so desirable’ approach in just about every pop song since 1962, or if he is only pretending to be snarky while secretly loving the very thing that makes the girls pictured in this song, superficial degenerates. There’s plenty of that wit sprinkled throughout the entire album. In the song “This Is Living” he sings “Did you see that show last night? The one where everyone got shot? It was on right after House, I don’t know, I like it” that sounds more like conversation between two guys who work in a random office setting than a band who is going spark a revolution through anti-establishment punk rock.
Simplicity is just fine. It’s sad that a punk rock has a certain amount of expectation that weighs it down these days. Not every single song has to be an anti conformist anthem to be good. There’s a time and place for that and it’s great that the revolution attitude is still there, but sometimes I want to identify with songs about being bored at work, or girls who have given me unwarranted attitude, and that’s what Shark? is all about. They are a band of your bros. guys who eat cheap pizza, play Mario Kart, and make fun of you for saying “I love you too” after hanging up the phone with your Mom.
That’s not to say that this album doesn’t have it’s sensitive moments. The song “Telsa” sounds as if Link Wray is playing a couples-only slow dance at junior prom, and “Wither” just might be the most touching ballad ever to be issued on a punk record. The singer of Shark? may not have the best singing voice, the guitarist may be no virtuoso, the drummer no Neil Pert, but there’s something magical in the chemistry with this band that makes everything fit perfectly. After a few songs you will all but forget about the imperfections and truly appreciate the garage accessibility of not just the record but the band themselves. After listening to this album in it’s entirety in one sitting (an easy task seeing as the it clocks in just over a half hour) I found myself searching for everything else they have put out. I listened to their first record and all of their EPs and they check out: they are a pretty good band!
“Savior” is a prime example that you don’t have to be epic musicians or backed by a major label to put out a great product. In fact, this album was partly fan funded via Kickstarter. Being all of the guys in the band have (had?) day jobs, it was hard to record a radio ready album, so they accepted donations from fans. If you threw 10 or 15 bucks their way, you’d get a CD when it was finished and they would also do something nice in return, like show up to your house and make hand made-pizza. That’s a true story too! Hearing stories like that remind you while we like garage bands like this. They are just normal guys like us. They work day jobs, have hobbies, watch the same TV shows, endure the same heartaches, enjoy simple things in life just like we do. Even though their song “California Grrls” was featured in the videogame Grand Theft Audio 5, and they are starting to get more popular, they are not untouchable rock stars. That keeps the Do-It-Yourself honesty legitimate.
Shark? (God, I love that they have a question mark in their band name) are bound for great things, especially if they keep things simple and honest like this album. Garage rock FOREVER!