Shakey Graves blazed onto the scene pretty quickly. While which scene he blazed onto remains up for interpretation, his presence online and in his hometown of Austin has made him into an “indie/folk hero” of sorts. But what draws me to his music is the exact opposite of what I spoke of in our most recent feature – just the right amount of character mixed with minimalistic production values. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, an antique amplifier, a small kick drum and his trusty vocals, the beauty of Shakey’s persona is his letting the music speak for itself. It’s as if he’s laying bare all of his flaws and daring us to take it as it is… a notion that is so contrary to what so much art has devolved into, that Shakey has become a sort of reawakening mechanism for me.
Homemade, lo-fi recordings of his unmistakable croon matched with re-recordings of dynamic vocal harmonies make up the majority of Shakey Graves‘ most recent effort, the Donor Blues EP. His classic-in-the-making bluesy guitar work remains fresh over repeated listens, and is complemented extremely well by his upbeat, almost comical, lyrical demeanor. Shakey has a certain command of the English language that many lyricists struggle to even attempt. Though he’s no “Shakey”speare (oh god I just couldn’t resist), every word he speaks comes off so smoothly, with such stylistic aplomb, that it’s difficult not to dig into his deceptively deep articulations.
As hinted at above, there’s a certain honesty about Shakey’s music that I find magnetic. What he stands for reminds me quite a bit of the writings of Jack Kerouac – a vagabond with no home, in search for something, anything but what our society tries to shove down his throat. As the listener, it sends you somewhere else, anywhere but here, where your perceptions of what you’re *supposed* to do with your life get thrown right out the window. His persona may well be one gigantic lie (I mean, maybe he’s some rich banker dude that just plays guitar on weekends at the local dive bars in Austin), but I’d rather pretend that it’s real and imagine myself in those shoes, playing music and simply enjoying the shit out of life.
I realize this isn’t as much of a review as it is a gigantic rumination on what Shakey Graves means to me, and what I think his music should mean to the rest of the music-listening world. Donor Blues, and his previous masterpiece Roll the Bones, represent exactly what much of the “indie scene” of today is shying away from: honesty and acceptance of oneself as a flawed, imperfect musician. Shakey doesn’t need to emulate others, because he’s already carved out his niche with his own no-BS approach.
He knows exactly where he’s going, even though he doesn’t know what the destination looks like. But you don’t need me to tell you this, when you can simply experience it for yourself. So listen to your hearts content. I implore you to purchase this EP (and Roll the Bones if you haven’t already)… if not for Shakey’s benefit, then for your own.
P.S. Please please please, watch the entirety of the above video. It pretty much sums up why I love this man and his music. Specifically: Droopy Wieners.
Sounds like: Shakey Graves, Shakey Graves, Shakey Graves (and maybe Yesper)
Stand out tracks:
Take a listen to my home-brewed instrumental/indietronic album
"The Past Is a Story We Tell Ourselves"
I'm told that it sounds like The Album Leaf, Balmorhea, and Emancipator.