The Sheen — The Sheen
(Bandcamp no#, 2018, CD / DL)
The Sheen — Trash Hazard
(Bandcamp no#, 2018, MC / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-11-03
The Sheen is a relatively new band from the small city of Bellingham, Washington, and in their short existence they’ve already been through two distinct phases. The personnel for their self-titled debut album included Brock Muench (drums, percussion), Justin Benz (bass, synths, vibraphone), Kelsey Tribble (organ, vocals, percussion), Kellan McLaughlin (guitar, percussion), and Riley Reasor (guitar, vocals, synths). In many of the tunes, it is Tribble’s organ that provides the distinguishing factor, being used in ways that are not typically heard in freewheeling mostly instrumental rock infused with touches of math, world, folk, and noise. At times I’m reminded of early Camper Van Beethoven, thought without violin and more emphasis on the instrumental parts (which of course brings to mind Monks of Doom). Some of the vocal parts have a heavy reliance on fifths that evokes a medieval feeling, and there are some times when the instruments veer away from each other into contrasting rhythmic and harmonic territory, as on the short instrumental “The Sudden Valley Homeowners Association.” And then there’s “Feedback,” with a title that accurately describes the source of the sounds, with wailing noise from several instruments. They have a way of playing fairly complex material with a punkish abandon that is energetic and very appealing. The whole album was recorded live in the studio, and the sound is very immediate and free of the sheen (ahem) of fussy production.
Recorded less than a year after the debut, Trash Hazard finds the band without Tribble and his organ, and with a second drummer, Jonathan Sherman, added. Sherman had appeared as a guest on the first album for a couple of tracks, and now he’s a full member of the group. With the organ gone, guitars are more prominent, though Reasor does pick up a sax at times. Again it’s a live recording, and at 29 minutes it’s maybe best considered an EP. In general, the sound is noisier and more chaotic, with vocals more shouted than resembling chants as on the previous effort. On “Bird Fraud,” Reasor’s sax provides mostly squawking, and he also contributes some crazy synth noises, giving the tune the flavor of very noisy free jazz. Listening in headphones, the presence of two drummers is not always obvious. The tunes come in with some variety in mood and tempo, though perhaps less than on the debut. Both albums are worthy efforts by a young band from an out-of-the-way corner of the country — for listeners approaching from the progressive rock side, I would definitely recommend The Sheen, and for noise-rock fans Trash Hazard might be the place to start.
Related artist(s): The Sheen
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more