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Shakey Graves shaking up folk-rock

| Wednesday, October 8, 2014

web_shakeygraves_10-9-2014Samantha Coughlin

“This is the beginning. Hello. 1, 2, 3.”

The album opens with this spoken line. You may wonder, the beginning of what exactly? If you haven’t heard him before, consider this the beginning of a musical infatuation with the one and only Shakey Graves.

Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who goes by his campfire Indian-guide name, Shakey Graves, released his second full-length album this Tuesday. The album, “And the War Came,” marks the first time Shakey Graves has an album on Spotify, which could mean big things for this breakout hero of folk-rock. The previous EP and LP can be found on Shakey’s website. According to his 2013 AMA on Reddit, his music wasn’t on Spotify simply because he didn’t know how to set it up. Even as his YouTube views reached the hundreds of thousands, many people were missing out on Shakey Graves because he wasn’t on Spotify. How grateful we are that he finally figured it out!

Rose-Garcia had a modest acting career before his venture into music. He appeared in “Spy Kids 3” and had a recurring role on “Friday Night Lights.” Shakey Graves is strongly associated with his hometown of Austin, Texas, whilehe also boasts experiences in the New York and LA music scenes. He incorporates the style of a one-man band, influenced by Bob-Log III. He does this through nimble, plucking fingers and the help of a second instrument – a kick-drum. He uses a kick-drum made from an old suitcase into his performance. The instrument is roughly home-made, displaying Shakey’s authentic bluesy-hobo vibe.

The new album shares a title with a Civil War novel written in 1950, reflecting its old-fashioned feel. Shakey Graves uses a lo-fi recording style that intentionally uses older and lower quality equipment to give the music a classic sound.

The single “Dearly Departed” was released on Spotify in July, however, if you’d been following Shakey Graves on YouTube, you had the privilege of hearing this gem back in April.

The music video for the single features Shakey with album collaborator Esme Patterson, who has a huge impact on three of the songs on the album. In “Dearly Departed,” the two sing together playfully and intimately in a country-simple outdoor setting, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The setting is perfect for the simple, light-hearted song. The banter was natural and sweet, the harmonies induced goosebumps. It fully embodied the jaunty ’50s country sound that we are used to hearing from Shakey Graves. The recorded version of the song attempts a fuller sound with some jamming electric guitar, stronger vocals and added percussion.

In the video for “Dearly Departed,” Shakey jokes about his future trip-hop and jazz-metal careers. For someone who jokes about musical diversity, his new album deviates quite a bit. “Family and Genus” explores a vibey electronic sound, while “The Perfect Parts” rocks pretty hard. At the very least, tracks like these prove that Shakey is at his best when he stays true to his rustic folk style. He sounds most sincere and natural when he’s picking away at an acoustic guitar, making us stomp along with his kick-drum. He has some success in “If Not for You” on staying true to his classic sound, while still jamming out on an electric guitar.

“And the War Came” has the potential to be Shakey Graves’ breakthrough album. Now that it’s conveniently on Spotify, there’s no reason not to check it out.


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