Shook Ones bring a relentless energy to the stage with a sound that accosts everything and everyone in the proximity. But underneath this sonic fury is a melodic style that as infectious as it is assaulting - singer Scott Freeman lends vocals that scream, sear, and sing their way into the listeners ear and won't come out. Compared to Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, there is an undeniable influence that steers the band towards the umbrella term of "pop punk": however, do not confuse Shook Ones with your typical fashion oriented radio-friendly flavor of the week band, nor the mid 90's fart rock, cheesy pop that was being cranked out. These guys take the ideas of speed, melody, catchy hooks and intelligent lyrics and create something new.
Both Bellingham, WA's Shook Ones and their new label, Revelation Records, will tell you that the band plays pop-punk, but that's being generous. Sure, the band is fun and emotional, sometimes simultaneously, but they're also endearing; this isn't to mention partially raw, intense and always driving, all of which happen to be qualities of the mid-to-late-`90s East coast melodic hardcore scene, which is more where Shook Ones' sound lies. If you didn't get that impression from last year's solid Sixteen, hopefully this, the Slaughter of the Insole 7" single that precedes a new full-length due in the summer, conveys that.
Opening things up is the title track, which is straight up Shook Ones (read: any of the faster songs on Sixteen). It starts off with a panic alarm-style bass riff, a quick "1-2!" and then launches into a lightning quick tempo with sloppy but chunky and pounding guitars and drums and Scott's indecipherable vocal rambling atop; a mid-tempo outro slowly fades us out.
However, the real highlight is what follows "Slaughter." "So Grown Up" is, hands down, the best song the band has written in their short tenure. Granted, you can stil hear the Kid Dynamite and Lifetime influences easy, but it's quite obvious the band has been quickly developing their songwriting and musical prowess. All this adds up to a song showing more of a unique flavor than any past material put under their name. Additionally, not only does it contain the strong emotional quality of earlier tracks like "I Try" and "Attitude Is the Agent," but it subtly picks up its pace as it progresses for a short while, eventually letting up for a rousing and forceful, gang vocal-laden emotional breakdown. It's void of chorus yet still both instantly memorable and likeable. A purely fantastic 3:26 of emotional, melodic punk rock. Did I mention it was emotional?
Closing up shop is a super poppy and catchy cover of Leatherface's "Not a Day Goes By." It's a solid version to carry us out.
Slaughter of the Insole is a great little teaser to get fans pumped about the new record. It's hard to say which of the first two tracks the sound will lean towards, but it's most certainly a given the surprise will be worth the wait despite the level of excitement surely invested in the album.