The Shants – Russian River Songs
The Shants – Russian River Songs (Self Released)
The Shants are a four-piece from Oakland, California, but their down-tempo country-folk isn’t exactly the booming hip-hop sound you’d expect from their urban base. In fact, these tracks were recorded in a cabin near the Russian River, and the first- and second-take demos are rustic and subdued, like the scant, heavily muted light that finds its way to the floor of a redwood grove. Their biography mentions comparisons to Richard Buckner, and they share the sort of minimalism and melancholy Buckner laid down on early albums like Devotion + Doubt. There’s a similar angst in vocalist Skip Allums’ passivity, but he sings with a more dissipated air than Buckner. The productions of vocals, guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel are at once dreamy and eerie; even the album’s love song features the semi-misanthropic sentiment “I’m tired of everyone but you.” An ode to their home town may be a bit ragged for official city adoption, but its shout-out to the Parkway Theater will resonate with those who knew the cozy movie house. The group’s combination of creeping tempos, drowsy vocals and dripping pedal steel gives these recordings an appealing moodiness.