GET THIS: TH’ LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS, “AGRIDUSTRIAL”
originally published on thepeoplesmusic.us
Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers have defied genre classification for years, and for the title of their seventh studio album, they finally created a word to describe their sound: Agridustrial.
With the addition of Duane Denison (the Jesus Lizard, The Damn Band, and tons of others) the Shack Shakers have gone from sounding akin to Hank III’s “hellbilly” to simply being kin to it, combining driving, locomotive-metal riffs with roots and regional folk percussion and rhythms to create a sound all their own while painting a horrifying, yet undistorted, apocalyptic portrait of America’s Southern heartland, past, present, and future.
Agridustrial juxtaposes the sounds and stories of times when America was even more shit out of luck to provide context for the modern-day downfall of America’s agrarian culture and industry, our economy, and the average person’s well being.
But don’t let all this talk of agriculture and the heartland cause you to even mutter the words “Cougar Mellencamp.” The Shack Shakers spit skin-peeling and soul-sinking stories of horror that make most Farm Aid types look like they’re peddling pro-government propaganda by comparison. Then again, would you expect less from one of Steven King’s favorite bands?
“The Hills of Hell” tells the story of two real life crucifixions in Kentucky and throws in the tale of a man who was brutally murdered, chewed beyond recognition by hounds, and then hidden in a dead horse’s belly, just for good measure.
“Dixie Iron Fist” projects the subjugation of the Southern everyman set to a frenetic beat comparable to a hummingbird’s heart on meth. It’s not Southern gentility sipping mint juleps in seersucker suits, it’s fighting to survive another day, just so you can wake up to get screwed over by the man again.
But it’s not all just pulse-pounding, frantic and feral, rock ‘n’ hell on Agridustrial. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers have really come into their own by combining their signature punk-billy with American roots music and agrarian industrial sounds. However, when the Shack Shakers employ roots and folk influences, they’re not drawing from traditional acoustic guitar folk; far from it— they’re pulling in the noises and rhythms of the hard labor that fractured working men’s backs. “Hammer and Tongs” portrays the struggle an unmalleable and defiant man beaten, pounded, and scorched by the machine, set to the beat of actual hammers hitting anvils, as are several other tracks, which also employ sounds from chains, trains, and tractors.
“Lost Cause” draws from hundreds of years of Southern culture, channeling the region’s embracement of lost causes all the way back to the South’s Celtic bloodline, in a haunting Civil War-esque ballad that sounds like the Pogues on quaaludes.
For 14 tracks, Agridustrial haunts, rocks, and rollicks, but is also the kind of album that would probably creep out a girl on your first date. It could equally serve as the soundtrack for the beating of an innocent man as it could a piece of art to be subjectively studied for cultural implications. It needs to be listened to in the right place and time. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t play it if a pregnant lady is in the room.