By J Howell
Denton, Texas’ Shiny Around the Edges, a band described by the Dallas Observer as “somewhere between Low and Swans,” are a little hard to explain.
Sure, comparisons to both of those bands aren’t exactly all that far off, but Shiny Around the Edges is a little harder to pin down than that. Over the course of the ten songs on their Sounds Are Active debut Holy Roller, the band does a pretty amazing job of not wearing their influences on their sleeves while somehow maintaining just enough familiarity as to be comparable to those influences.
For example, the third track, “Come Closer,” has just a little bit of PJ Harvey-ish feel, while somehow managing to really not sound like PJ Harvey at all. The instrumental second to last track, “Elizabeth Ascending,” pulses with an almost Portishead-like mantra of repeating synth, but really doesn’t sound like Portishead all that much. Or maybe I’m way off and they’re not influenced by either of them at all and those two are just the closest comparisons I can think of on those particular songs?
In any event, the songs on Holy Roller, more often than not tend toward the more menacing end of the sonic spectrum, from the first song “Every Hunter Needs A Kill” on, with instrumentation that is somehow almost folky and heavy (think Swans-heavy or Bone Machine-era Tom Waits-heavy, not Slayer-heavy) at the same time. Like I said, they’re a little hard to pin down, but that’s a good thing—it’s rare for a band to come from so many angles at once musically while remaining cohesive, even if it does make reviewing their record a little tricky. These songs are equally (and often simultaneously) pummeling and introspective; soothing and apocalyptic. With Holy Roller, Shiny Around the Edges have created a debut that promises an extraordinarily bright (or dark, as it were) future. Highly recommended.
Also worth checking out: Shiny Around the Edges’ beautiful and disturbing cover of Willie Nelson’s “Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye” on 7″, and 20 Bands/ 74.4 Minutes!, a “Denton Mixtape” curated by Shiny’s Michael and Jennifer, available for free download at Sounds Are Active’s website.
Shiny Around The Edges will be playing in St. Louis, MO on April 9. For tour dates and to hear tracks from Holy Roller, please visit the band’s MySpace page.