Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Shants

I think that’s a cool band name, the Shants. Singer Skip Allums is coy about what it actually means, offering a couple of explanations. One, evidently, is British slang for getting drunk (e.g., “fancy a shant?”). I had not actually heard that term before, & have not yet independently confirmed its correct usage. So caveat emptor on that one, party peeps. Anyway, I just like the way it rolls off the tongue: the Shants. The Shants. So there’s that.

The Shants are a newish band, based in Oakland. Which seems to me like a funny place from which to launch this nouveau-retro-Country-type project. But what do I know, since this is clearly not my usual cup of tea anyway, right? See, at first I was all: yeah yeah, pedal steel guitar, nice, whatev. But here’s the thing: the Shants & my iPod have been carrying on a torrid little dalliance for a few days now. & I’m surprised to find myself getting actually kind of infatuated with these here Shants.

Submitted for our consideration is an 8-song EP entitled Russian River Demos, evidently recorded live in a cabin among the redwoods. & it feels like that: kind of languid, kind of sexy. Nobody’s in a hurry to get anywhere. Skip’s singing is, well, pretty. But it’s also delivered with the quiet confidence of somebody who’s strong enough to never need to shout. OK, I guess that’s a lot of words just to say he’s understated. Anyway, I like the singing & I like the songwriting, too. I like the frequent drifting into a minor key, just to keep things interesting. The clear signature here is the aforementioned pedal steel, wielded craftily by Samuel Tokheim. & that’s what really drew me into these songs. Samuel plays with finesse, with wit, & with a poetic sense that makes these good songs kind of great.

I like the Shants, & you might too. If you go to their myspace page, check out “Tired of Everyone,” and “I’m a Ghost.” It looks like they have a couple of San Francisco gigs coming up next month. You can buy their EP at a show, or on their site for 5 bucks. That's sweet.

1 comment:

  1. yeaaaaaaaaaah I like this band. I've been listening to them but need to get around to doing a writeup.