Shortstack, Washington D.C.'s favorite veteran post-Americana rock band, culminates more than a decade of experience into their third full-length record, Please Leave My Mind. Subtly checking a bit of their signature creepy twang at the studio door, Shortstack's focus this time around is on crafting a more sophisticated, yet precise, collection of dynamic tracks, while bringing lead singer Adrian Carroll's vocals to the forefront, and tackling a more personal domain of lyrical topics. It's as if the band has traded in their Model-T for a Lamborghini in their journey through the dusty roots and blues/early rock-n-roll landscape that makes up old weird America. Gritty yet polished, uneasy yet relaxed, complex yet simply catchy as your favorite Beatles tune, Please Leave My Mind satisfies the soul, no matter what shape it’s in.
Hailing from the United States capitol, Shortstack's roots can be traced back to Allentown, Pennsylvania - a city nestled between Philadelphia, the Appalachian coal belt and the remains of Bethlehem Steel. It was here that schoolmates Scott Gursky and Adrian Carroll cut their teeth on punk rock in the local scene around them. Fast-forward to 1999 when Adrian and Scott, broke and jobless, reunited in a move to a ramshackle house in D.C. Together they began discovering the country sounds of Chet Atkins, Merle Travis and other early American artists, and soon began filling the house with their own songs about isolation, love, redemption and wandering. After a few initial shows around town, Mike Pahn, a refugee from Memphis, joined the group to add an essential rhythm via stand-up bass to the groove Adrian and Scott had started. What they formed together was a brand of proto-rock-n-roll emanating from a time before Elvis - the tonality and execution of early rock-n-roll without the pompadours and all such gimmicks through which it is commonly filtered and fetishized.
Fast-forward again to 2010. Shortstack is older and wiser. As with many bands that have lasted 10 years, they've moved to a new record label and experienced a couple of lineup changes, with Burleigh Seaver joining in 2005 and bringing his talents on guitar and vocal harmonies. They've developed a significant, dedicated fan base in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region and well beyond. They've shared the stage with an incredibly wide variety of musicians. "We've played some crazy shows over the years," recalls Mike Pahn. "We've played with Calexico, The Cramps, Bob Log III, Hasil Adkins, and--I still don't know how this happened-- Getatchew Mekuria (widely known as one of the most important proponents of Ethio-jazz) and The Ex!" But most notably, Shortstack has matured, they've celebrated milestones, and they've suffered losses. Quite simply, they've been experiencing life, and it's clearly affected their craft in a positive way on Please Leave My Mind.
"We've definitely evolved as songwriters," says Carroll. "And it could be said that this album is about a period of loss and recovery. Yet at the same time it's a much more accessible album than our previous recordings. We put a lot more effort into vocals and focused more on stacked harmonies in the voices and the instruments." And while this album may slightly diverge from previous works, current Shortstack fans will surely be pleased, while new listeners are certain to be quickly won over. Carroll continues, "We're making music that's genuine and truly our own--we are not apeing or imitating--our music's a unique response to the vast array of sounds that have spoken to us. Our music exudes a certain nostalgia, yet isn't retro; it's earnest, yet not maudlin. Our music is our own, and I think that's readily clear when people see us live." It's this evolution and continued uniqueness that has facilitated a collection of songs that the band is absolutely thrilled with. "We feel so good about the way everything came out," adds Pahn. "This is our most rockin' record yet."
For more information please visit Shortstack's official website.
Shortstack Recordings from Free Dirt Records: