- Three years in the making, the Shalants finally present their brilliant new album.
After three years, the Northern California based four-piece, Shalants, have just released their ornate and heartbreaking new self-titled album.
Here's a stream of the track "The Mercury Twins":
Emerging from the same Bay Area psychedelic, garage pop scene that has produced The Fresh & Onlys, Sonny & The Sunsets and Girls, Shalants (pronounced like "nonchalant") produce a distinctly Californian sound. It's a mash-up of Mexican, Native American, Chinese, settler culture and pioneer spirits. The band split their time between San Francisco and the alpine wilderness of Shasta County, and their music is informed by everything between the Delta and the Bay. They recall a bygone era, but their music is not retro.
Miller Carr, Shalants’ chief singer and songwriter, comes descended from the original pioneers that founded San Francisco and the Jefferson State area. His family were gold rush chancers, his great-grandfather a county judge, his grandfather a District Attorney, and his father a liberal free-spirited lawyer turned brandy drinking river rat. The songs on Shalants trace Carr’s own lineage and his bloodline’s collected experience: from sailors and explorers to prospectors and religious asylum seekers; immigrants and ballroom piano players to whores and gunslingers; opium smokers and bohemians to anarchists and the beats; John Muir, Gary Snyder, Kerouac and Emperor Norton.
The band receives inspiration from California’s terrain and topography. Their darkness emerges from the fog and the forests. Their playfulness and curiosity comes from the giants in the Shasta Cascades, their friends in the Sierras, and the rivers and meadows that wind around the canyons. The sea informs their longing and wanderlust. The music they make blows up their journeys and experiences, movie size: the dreamy foggy soundtrack to a lost Terrence Malick film.
But ultimately what makes the band so intriguing, whether it be by their live show or recorded work, is their subtle dynamics, voodoo telepathy, and warlike approach to performing. They will cut you down, but they’ll also bury you afterwards, and make a little cross. The sound they make, like all honest things, is beautiful, meaningful, and harmonious, yet vulgar and dark. And they can play circles around anyone. You’ll have trouble finding another group of guys so young that can play a Cole Porter-like ballad and then swing right into a minimalist Cramps-esque burner at the drop of the dime.
The new album's highlights include the dub-influenced, lyrically dense “Riverbanking,” the urgent propulsive plea of “When It Comes,” the swinging, shimmering voodoo of “The Mercury Twins,” the forlorn waltz of “Black Jewels,” and the gentle melancholy of “The Deserter.” It's an album-length dose of mania and wonder via a cocktail of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tom Waits, The Walkmen, The Kinks and Neil Young.
The band will be performing up and down the West Coast throughout 2011.