Album Reviews

Legendary Shack Shakers

The Southern Surreal

Artist:     Legendary Shack Shakers

Album:     The Southern Surreal

Label:     Alternative Tentacles

Release Date:     09/11/2015


The Legendary Shack Shakers aren’t afraid to dig deep into the dirtiest, most difficult corners of the human condition for lyrical inspiration. Murder, poverty, religion— nothing is taboo. Far from an idealized version of rural America, “MisAmerica” likens society to a spent beauty queen with crooked teeth who can’t even read her own concession speech. The Southern Surreal is not without moments of pure elegance, however. J.D. Wilkes’ harmonica in “Fool’s Tooth” and “Christ Alrighty” is so on point, it’ll make you sweat.

The Shack Shakers take their influence from rockabilly, punk and industrial, but diverge into other avenues as well. “Dead Bury the Dead” is a stylistic departure and a standout track with its more Latin sound, if not a deviation in subject matter (bones and tombs are definitely part of the Shack Shakers usual forte). Altogether, Southern Surreal is a mixture of raw, gritty and appropriately odd. The energetic “Young Heart, Old Soul” quickly bleeds off into far darker material, from Billy Bob Thornton’s featured grizzly drawl in “The Dog was Dead,” to the joys and sorrows of alcohol in “Demon Rum.”

The Southern Surreal marks the band’s first release in five years. Those familiar with earlier albums by the Legendary Shack Shakers won’t likely be disappointed by this latest effort, and the uninitiated who like their southern with a heavy dose of Gothic are in for a rare treat.

– Leah Dearborn

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