Nashville Math-Rock duo show there’s more than a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Music City!
Narwhal’s used to be my favourite animal. What’s not to like about a whale that has a massive tooth/tusk emerging from its mouth? When I was little I used to have a Masters of the Universe Ladybird book in which a narwhal helped He-Man on a narrow causeway in the sea. I loved this story and animal so much that when I used to go on holiday to Cornwall and we used to walk to St. Michael’s Mount I’d pretend to be Adam/He-Man (sorry for the spoiler) and try and spot the narwhal off shore how was willing to risk all to help me get to one of Cornwall’s premier National Trust site.
When now listen to Gnarwhal I am reminded not only of Cornwall, but also that story. Against the odds two opposite factors come together to create something amazing. The St Aubyn family building a stately home on a small piece of land in the sea and an Eternian teaming up with a whale to defeat their foes. The combined forces of Chappy Hull and Tyler Coburn have created something equally as cool as the St Aubyn’s home and as memorable as He-Man riding a narwhal.
Shinerboy opens with a lo-fi crescendo of riffs and drum beats. The initial feel is that of an ad-hoc jam before the track kicks in properly, but after a few moments you realise that this doesn’t happen, and this is the track. As It’s Cute They Match proceeds it picks up speed until at its conclusion all you can really make out is Hull’s screaming vocals and Coburn’s cymbals. Whatever Hull is playing has been lost to a lo-fi ethos. Anal Riffage picks up where They Match left off. Hull’s guitar runs are fast and frenetic and Coburn matches blow for blow. At times it’s hard to tell who’s keeping up with who? That’s Not of Course has an exquisite instrumental breakdowns, that should go on for ever! On this track we can hear the delicate interplay between this duo, that has seen them be lauded one of the tightest bands around today.
My Waterfall Delight slows things down as it’s a beautiful acoustic ballad. After the pummelling of the previous three tracks you need a bit of down time, even if it is only for sixty one seconds. The rest of the album follows the blueprint of the opening tracks. Fast, hard and extremely lo-fi!
What makes Shinerboy such an unrelenting listen is its unpredictability. Just when you think you have the song pegged down, it takes an unexpected turn and the rhythm changes and what you thought was up is in fact left. Also Gnarwhal means a gnarly narwhal, and this is exactly what we have, a pretty cool massive whale that loves Math-Rock.