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neumu
Wednesday, November 22, 2017 
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Sugar Shack
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Spinning Wheels
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Hmmm, dunno what I was doing when I wasn't listening to this. Why did poor little Sugar Shack get left at the bottom of the unsteady mound of promos? Some questions will remain a mystery (for me anyhow).

Oddly, it took a visit to a used-clothing store to get me to hear Sugar Shack's latest album, Spinning Wheels. The yawns kept coming, one after another, that late afternoon as I sifted carelessly and idly through stupid T-shirts and stupider pants. And then Sugar Shack hit the speakers like speed hits the bloodstream — a slap, crack and bang pulled me out of my stupor in half a second. "Oooh, I like this! Who is it?" Bobbing my head and shaking my hips, I had the dawning realization: Not only do I really, really like this sloppy and ferocious garage punk rock, I've got it at home.

I recalled one drowsy morning listening session where Spinning Wheels played quietly like background music as I gazed, eyes half-shut, at the computer screen and sipped at something hot — never turned it up but skipped mindlessly to the next CD in the stack. Poor little Shack got lost in trenches of miscellaneous music. I recalled all of this, and then I kicked myself (literally) — "Why didn't I pay more attention the first time around? These days, it's nice to catch 'em before they hit Letterman." Oh well, a time and a place for everything.

The Shack are great (I like calling them the Shack — makes me feel like a cool insider). They're overloaded with screeches that spit and sneer and wails that tremble with lots o' shattering, racing noise. These speeding Spinning Wheels, like proverbial bats out of hell, don't stop for a minute, not even a gasp of air — they're having a great, big party and don't care who they're waking up. The Texas quintet is all over you, all at once — all slobbery and sloppy, slapping-and-banging dirty rock 'n' roll. And, oh boy, is it loud — the perfect sort of intense, in-your-face tunes for doing something active that typically results in injury. Like, I dunno, skating, surfing, snowboarding, riding dirt bikes or just jumping — you know, off a bridge, a rock, a roof or maybe just up and down. Now, don't let the fact I mentioned the "board sports" turn you off — this isn't pretty-boy, Hawaiian-shirts-and-tattoo-sleeves, MTV-style punk (did you ever think all those words would end up in the same sentence?!). I have a feeling these unrestrained five actually sustain injuries. Driven by manic energy so rough and tough, Sugar Shack couldn't avoid the crash if they wanted to.

Busting open the album like a can of whoop ass — wasting no time at all — with intense energy, handclaps and crunchy riffs, "Form a Straight Line" goes against musical standards with garage's beat-up imperfections as much as it fights against life's little nagging strictures. "My life/ Is full or rules and regulations/ Unnecessary complications/ They're gonna make me fit in/ Do as your told/ Now boy ... Do what you want/ Just don't use your mind."

Riding on a faltering melody and an uneven flow where the words feel smeared together, the spiraling and wiry "Sedatives and Razorblades" recalls Richard Hell and has an irresistibly mean hook. "Sick on You" features the playful, bratty exchange of singing duties between lead Mark Lochridge and a female vocalist (perhaps drummer Stefanie Paige Friedman?), excellent, gritty guitar, a swinging beat and lyrics we can all relate to. "We've been together since last November," Lochridge sneers. "You gave up thinking we could do better," the "girlfriend" snarls back with gravel and snot. "My little habit's getting on your last nerve," he croons. "Your little habit's making me go berserk!" she exclaims. Yee-haw, Spinning Wheels is, through and through, rattle-the-windows, wake-the-neighbors, bounce-around-and-go nuts fun — I may have arrived late, but boy am I glad I crashed the party.


by Jenny Tatone




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