Blind Shake: “Key To A False Door” Review

blind shake key to a false door review

The Blind Shake have been my favorite local band for something like eight years – but something that I have never really had an easy time reconciling in my mind has always been the dichotomy of the band’s on-stage versus off-stage presence. Off stage they seem like really fun guys who like to goof off and toss around a football. On stage they can be downright terrifying – all electrifying, hard-charging “seriousness” (to borrow the name of their last record).  I have nearly been kicked in the face by Jim Blaha on numerous occasions.

I don’t just mention this to share my own experience of the band – but really more to illustrate a point that I think differentiates their newest record (their fourth) Key to a False Door from earlier work.  At least to my ears, the band has never before sounded this much like they are having fun.  And I don’t at all mean that there is some spurious, light-hearted aspect to False Door that imparts a kinder, gentler Blind Shake sound.  By all means it is still pummeling, face-melting punk rock. And if you asked me to nail down precisely what it is in the album that conveys fun, I doubt I could give you specifics. It’s just a sensation really. There you have it.

However if you want a description of the album that doesn’t take into account my own ill-conceived gut reaction, here is this:

Key to a False Door is an album that in some ways adheres to the Blind Shake tradition of straight ahead, fuzzed-out punk songs with incredibly infectious rhythms. “Garbage on Glue’ is a terrific example of the BS at their most quintessential.  However the new record also continues Seriousness’s theme of pushing beyond established boundaries.

There is a fair amount of range to the record. The vocals, for instance, vary considerably across the thirteen tracks.  And from an overall perspective the band’s sound is harder to pin down. “Can’t Stand Life” sounds a little like it was recorded during tornado of far-out guitar distortion.   Then there’s the sledgehammer cadence and spacey guitar of “Le Pasion,” that I might say reminded me of Ty Segall if I didn’t know that the BS predate Segall by half a decade. Or instrumental short “Flying Rabbit,” which has a sort of minimalist/industrial vibe. “Calligraphy” conjures 60’s psychedelia via a tambourine accompaniment. And that just covers a few of the tracks!

Some of the range in the band’s sound might be attributable to working/recording with (Thee Oh Sees’ record label) Castle Face for the first time.  But most likely it’s primarily due to the band’s willingness to push at its boundaries by continually seeking out new and interesting sounds. Seriousness was a great first step in that direction and Key to a False Door is an even bigger one.  And even if I am way off about the “fun” aspect I hear in this record – I still like to imagine that the band, ten years into its career, are finding ways to have a good time with the process.

If you want to have some fun yourself, they’ll be no better time this Saturday night than the Blind Shake’s record release show at the Turf Club.

— Jon

Key to A False Door will be available via castle Face and local proprietors on September 17th.  But the official release will take place at 9pm on 9/8 at the Turf Club.

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