Recapped: New Shouts
With the long-running Soulcialism and the newer Title Town DJ nights, Pittsburgh continues to maintain a soul presence that has the unique ability to unite folks from different social circles, different band scenes, and different backgrounds. The energetic atmosphere that pervades these DJ nights has carried over into a small revivalist band scene in Pittsburgh. (Because Pittsburgh's music scenes overlap and can be hard to differentiate, two bands will suffice as the definition of a scene.) While not strictly recreating the sound and style of 50s and 60s Motown or the less-polished Northern Soul sounds, Pittsburgh's New Shouts and Neighbours have taken the enthusiasm of Soul and transplanted it in a pool of influences that includes early Beatles re-rock, mild psychedelia, Britpop, and 60s West Coast sounds. Where Neighbours have produced a lavish EP that is all kinds of 60s with a new 7" on the way, New Shouts have crafted a tight EP that bathes in grit, harmony, and undeniable hooks with an interesting new single that hints at things to come. For the remainder of this short piece, I will focus on New Shouts for reasons that will become clear and self-serving.
After two digital singles (A and B side tracks), New Shouts released Sing New Shouts, a seven-song banger that improves upon the promise of their earlier recorded results. "The Reins To Your Heart" opens the album with a warm burst that wouldn't feel out of place on a Northern Soul mix. "I Need To Love You (To Carry On)" underscores an emotional plea with walking bass, vocal harmonies, and dusty production that is both wide and nearly mono. Where so many studio albums quickly feel constrained, this album is alive with space, resonance, and a realness that immediately trancends the authencity issues inherent in building on past sounds. "Hung On You" and "Stop Braggin'" continue the trend of terrific hooks that morph into tender, "wish I wrote that" choruses. "Stop Braggin'" especially recalls Derek White's (bass, vocals) impeccably produced previous effort, Derek White and the Monophobics. The next two tracks take a slightly bluesier route, before the "Bang Slang" closes the album with a great rhythm track and melody and some macho-isms. Overall, the album is a great slice of pop writing. The question would then be, what is next? Or at least that is generally the question I ask. Where do you go from here?
The answer appears to be a jump into the modern day. (Check it - Pittsburgh City Paper is currently hosting New Shouts newest single, Gazes in the Dark.) Immediately the melodic synthesizers trigger a sense of change. Slightly gated drums and continued interplay of synths recall the recent-ish 80s trend, but this is no way a revival of dark 80s pop. The structure of the piece is less straightfoward than Sing New Shouts, and the Beach Boys-isms have had their corners darkened with a tale of a person (narrator or subject?) changing for the worse. A wider variety of sounds enter the sonic landscape, which is much thicker with a wider stereo span. The cowbell, stained with a comedic context since the SNL skit, makes an entrance in the darkest section of the song to solidify the rhythm. It is a very interesting change and bodes well for the possibilities of a follow-up album.
However, the sonic enhancement is not the only change in the New Shouts camp. Organist/pianist Michelle Horsley will be filling the role previously held by Delicious Pastries' Jonathan Chamberlain. Horsley is a classically-trained organist with a repertoire that includes some of Messiaen's Christian organ works, Paul Hindemith, and Jehan Alain, among others. It should make for an interesting mix.
Here comes the self-serving part. Come check out New Shouts this Friday with DJ Dave Zak and Host Skull (a very rare five-piece version of us, borrowing members from Good Night, States and Triggers). The show is at Brillobox, doors at 9:30, price? a mere $5.
New Shouts: "Gazes in the Dark"