Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Mystery Band

The Shanks. Here's everything I know. I saw their CD Brang in a shop in 1999 (the CD doesn't actually have a date on it anywhere, so I'm trusting a website for the release date). The owner of the shop had put a sticker on it saying "Art Damage in the tradition of Wire, the Fall, etc." so I decided to give it a whirl. The band is from Ireland. There are two songs on the CD that I've tended to put on mix tapes. One, 2 Dogs, is pretty obviously inspired by the Fall's Bombast although it steals in a very interesting way. The other is the much more "Irish" sounding Turn Me Around. The rest of the album isn't amazing, but it's consistently interesting.

So, what else have they done and where can I get it? Good question. Allmusic never heard of them. I've managed to find about two webpages that give any info at all (here's one of them). Supposedly this got a lot of play on the BBC, but here in Brooklyn that does me no good. I keep on the lookout for a rumored second album.

Years pass, and I'm in a Salvation Army and I spot a CD with the name "Shanks" on the cover. It's on a foreign label with a US office (Schemer, a division of Semaphore, which was, I'm told, a Netherlands based label). How it got to a Salvation Army in Brooklyn...well, actually I do have an idea, but I'm not going to tell you because that particular Salvation Army is a total treasure trove and it's mine!

Anyway, the name of the CD is Masterbait. Ugghhh. Not promising. But it also says "Produced by Mayo Thompson" which does seem promising. Basically, it's a band with a decent, post-punky sound but not much in the way of songs. I'm thinking it's a different Shanks, but what are the odds that there'd be two unrelated, obscure bands by that name, and that I'd find both of their CDs? Very strange. I'm not going to post anything by Shanks #2, because I can't find anything worthy of my limited space. (I did learn, via an I Love Music thread, that they also covered Wreckless Eric's Whole Wide World on a single).

Maybe if I lived in Ireland this would be less mysterious. Anyone out there care to clear things up? And what about this ephemeral Call Centre, who seem to have included several members of the Irish Shanks before disappearing from the face of the earth, leaving behind only a cached web page?

The thing is, Brang is a really intriguing album, with a lot of neat ideas. You'd think it would have made a bigger splash. And it's only five years old. I can understand lost garage bands from the 60's, but this is ridiculous.

I recently checked on the Siesta label to see what they're up to. I loved their Reverie series of psychedelic children's albums (Algebra Spaghetti et al.) but that seems to have petered out for the most part. I did notice the band The Magic Whispers have a nice cover of the Magnetic Fields' 100,000 Fireflies, and here it is. It's not better than the original, but it does improve on Superchunk's slaughtering of that song.

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