Brothers Jim and Mike Blaha constitute 66.6% of Minneapolis’s best export this side of Target: The Blind Shake. Rounded out and beaten forward by co-founder Dave Roper, the trio exercises undeservedly antiquated practices, such as: (1) marrying quality-control with a hyper-prolific release and touring schedule; (2) allowing the resultant discography to boast an uncommon variety and scope; (3) what might be the best live show in contemporary garage-punk / related underground; and (4) appropriating garage-punk, class-of-1990 noise-rock and blunt-force post-punk, out of which emerges a largely proprietary mountain of scuzz-pop menace.
If the brothers’ new endeavor, Shadow in the Cracks, was a “side project” in quality of sound and aesthetic, the term would’ve landed in the opening sentence. However, the world deserves to consider the nine-song, self-titled debut (Goner Records, 2015) on its own terms. Everything here is natural; nothing is overt or a convenient diversion obscuring a deficiency in song-craft. Reverb is used but only where it makes total sense—on the vocals, where it accentuates the mood and menace of each song. This record is not here to distribute hi-fives and constant positive affirmation. It is about how the universe can gradually compound the duller negativities of life and state of mind; the conditional negation of contentment when maintaining survival mode.
Shadow in the Cracks “refers to the darker part of the dark,” explains Jim. “We decided to create a new band after the first song was written. It felt much different to us that it sort of got us scheming and we created an entire back-story / idea for the band; then started writing the songs within that limitation. Having only a kick drum and Indian bells changed the way we played our guitars. It could have been a new direction for the Blind Shake for sure, but it was really fun to enjoy the new limitations without having the temptation to go back to what was more familiar. The first song was written when the drums were not fully set up at our practice space. Mike sat behind the kick drum and started playing. I responded to what he was doing and it came out way different than it usually does. It really moved us in a new way.”
Antarctic sheets of noise and melody celebrating the hopelessness of survival using a kick drum, Indian bells, guitars, vocals.