REVIEW: THE SHIMMER BAND – KOOLAIDACIDKID
It’s said they once lined men’s souls with gold… a curious-sounding business to say the least. But Chinese whispers aside, it’s their new line of work that’s set to seize your attention….
Arriving this month with quite enough education to perform is a band whose fans (and they are many, already) will soon find themselves at the start of a brand new yellow brick road, looking towards a shimmering sonic vista.
If you’ve been a regular on the Bristol live circuit over the last year or so, you might recognise the six-stringed sounds of Daniel ‘Babsy’ Barry, the dexterous drumming of Willz Hatcher – which have been teamed up on several occasions for the city’s listening pleasure – and the boisterous vocals of singer Tom Newman. The Shimmer line up also sees Jack Palmer on bass, providing a robust, relentless backbone to grind teeth to.
And so to this tightly-bound bundle casually dubbed ‘plain ol’ rock n roll – tunes for the kids’, sitting at the junction between pop, psychedelia and krautrock, and spearheaded by title release Kool-Aid Acid Kid.
Fans of Tom Wolfe will recognise the literary reference here, but whether or not this influences the meaning of the song is really irrelevant – as the track can be seen (if you’re looking) to answer the distant call of the Beat Generation in its arrangement alone.
Newman’s vocals carry an air of intense conviction corresponding with this underground movement, and have something of a visceral appeal. These fill Kool-Aid to the brim with grit and spirit, rendering it a song to stir and enthuse. The dynamic drum sound, which smacks of the part-man, part-machine processed rhythms of Ian Matthews, suits the industrious style of the Shimmer drummer to a tee, and fuses with a soaring melody. Look out for the driving rhythm guitar of newest recruit Tom Smith, matching the rousing bassline and completing the aural offensive. Smith paves the way for Epiphone-toting axeman Babsy, commonly found freaking over the frets like no-one’s business.
A sneak peek at their second single offers just as much to shout about. Due for release at the end of October, this track also features the mastering skills of Robin Schmidt (whose repertoire includes work for The Black Keys and The Sand Band). Similarly seismic in terms of style – that is to say, raucous and guitar-driven – it’s full of that same anthemic energy and flatline bass riffs, as well as a howl worthy of Ginsberg. Familiar motifs return to tether the tracks and consolidate their identity, and the lack of technical acrobatics and general showboating demonstrates more of a disciplined, no-frills approach.
So, tune-thirsty Bristol populace, seek out Tom Newman and his own band of Merry Pranksters, get an ice-cold glug of Kool-Aid down your neck and see if you’re buying what they’re selling.
A roundhouse of a record and what a precursor for things to come – I’m keen to watch the fallout.
Words: Amanda Nicholls
by 247 Magazine