The Shaky Hands
‘The Shaky Hands’ feels like a classic debut, almost as though it’s following an invisible lineage of great US debuts (from The Feelies “Crazy Rhythms through R.E.M’s “Murmur” to Neutral Milk Hotel’s “On Avery Island") and, like these bands, they come fully-formed and with a singular voice, in the case of The Shaky Hands this voice belongs to main songwriter Nick Delffs. As it floats restlessly through the scales, one minute wide-eyed and soulful, the next with a flat, resignation it’s the type of charismatic, identifiable voice that doesn't always need to hit the right note to strike a chord in the listener. All of which wouldn’t count for much if the songs weren’t so damn good.Read More
And they are, from metronomic opener, ‘Whales Sing’ and its winning approximation of Otis Redding’s ‘I Can’t turn You Loose’ right through to the handclaps and good vibes of closer ‘Summer Life’. Single, The Sleepless with its staccato verses and effervescent chorus could be a long lost classic Britpop single, whilst Why and How Come, with its Byrds-like arpeggio guitars and flailing drums will, for those with a long enough memory, bring recollections of great lost 80’s American bands like Let’s Active or The Dream Syndicate. And though the up-tempo numbers are the ones that will initially stick inside your head it’s perhaps the slower songs that will define this record. There’s a striking, mystical beauty to songs like, “Another World Pt 1 & 2” and “The Clapping Song”, so much so that when Delfs intones “Well I’ve been searching a long time for a heart that could beat with mine, I think I’ve found it”, on the latter, as the key turns from major to minor you may find your world becomes momentarily warmer.
Some bio stuff: The Shaky Hands formed in Portland in the fall of 2003. They began as a three piece with Nick Delffs (also of Castanets) playing guitar and singing, Colin Anderson playing drums and Paul Culp on bass. That year was spent performing in basements and living rooms. Following Culp’s departure in 2004, Mayhaw Hoons and his hair joined the band, soon followed by second guitarist Jeff Lehman. Around this time Nick and Colin traveled to Bonny Doon, California and recorded a self-titled EP with Nick’s brother Nathan, which was subsequently self-released on CD-R. In 2006 Nick, Colin, Mayhaw and Jeff recorded this debut full-length at Sidecar Studios in Portland, before bringing on Nathan as an official member that spring. Now five strong with Nathan on pedal steel and percussion,