The Shacks, Outcalls
2549 North Howard Street
Baltimore, MD, 21218
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Taking influence from 1960's Thai funk - their name literally translates to "Engine Fly" in Thai - Khruangbin's debut album 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' is steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool. The Texan trio is formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald "DJ" Johnson on drums.
'The Universe Smiles Upon You' was recorded at their spiritual home, a remote barn deep in the Texas countryside where their first rehearsals took place. The band listened to a lot of different types of music on the long drives out to the country but their favourites were 60s and 70s Thai cassettes gleaned from the cult Monrakplengthai blog and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk. This had a heavy impact on the direction of the band, the scales they used and the inflection of the melodies; which coupled with the spaciousness of the Texan countryside culminated in Khruangbin forming their exotic, individual sound.
Although the band was conceived as an instrumental outfit, 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' features the first Khruangbin recordings with vocals. Tracks 'People Everywhere (Still Alive)', 'Balls and Pins' and recent single 'White Gloves' show a new dimension to the band.
"We never really thought of ourselves as having a "singer" but we knew that we wanted a voice for Khruangbin. We decided to write about something close to us, tell a story as simply as possible, and sing it together."
The seeds of Khruangbin were sown when Mark and Laura were invited to tour with Ninja Tune's YPPAH supporting Bonobo across his 2010 American tour. The tour galvanised the two of them to start making music together more seriously, with DJ - he and Mark have played in the same gospel band for years - the natural choice for drums.
Sharing their first recordings, Bonobo included Khruangbin's 'A Calf Born In Winter' on his 2013 Late Night Tales compilation. Subsequently signed to Late Night Tales offshoot Night Time Stories, 'A Calf Born In Winter' was released as a single in May 2014 and saw support from DJs Zane Lowe, Cerys Matthews, Tom Ravenscroft, Gideon Coe, Don Letts and magazines as musically diverse as i-D, The 405, Clash, Ransom Note, Test Pressing and For Folk's Sake. Four track EP 'The Infamous Bill' followed in October, with covers EP 'History Of Flight' on Record Store Day 2015.
"We feel like there is an ease that comes from being immersed in a space, away from the distractions of the city and everyday life. We make our music in a barn, in the Texas hill country, because it makes sense to us. Being there allows us to make music that comes naturally, and that's what we wanted this album to be. We wanted to make a record that just let the music happen, and we hope that's what you can hear."
Khruangbin make their UK live debut at Simple Things festival, Bristol on 24th October; with UK tour dates to be announced.
01. Mr White
02. Two Fish And An Elephant
03. Dern Kala
04. Little Joe & Mary
05. White Gloves
06. People Everywhere (Still Alive)
07. The Man Who Took My Sunglasses
08. August Twelve
09. Balls and Pins
"A colourful fusion of groove-based crate-digging and blistering psych" Clash
"Providing the soundtrack to your dreams" i-D
"The kind of music that Tarantino builds whole movies around" Loud & Quiet
"The perfect soundtrack to accompany sunsets" Indie Shuffle
"We have a future classic on our hands" The Vinyl Factory
"A testament to how fantastic instrumental music can be at conjuring the senses" Mahogany
"If there's ever been a time that I've wished a 3-minute song would last for 3 hours, this is it" Don't Need No Melody
"Full of soul and richness. On listening to this band you might feel as if you've discovered a gem" Echoes & Dust
"Fuzzes, buzzes and floats like smoke. A seriously bad mother funkin' groove" KCRW
The Shacks — equal parts Max Shrager and Shannon Wise singing in her soft whispered voice — sound like they're playing alone with nobody watching. This dreamy, voyeuristic sound was born in a Queens, NY studio in 2014. And while they describe themselves as a rock band, don't expect the conventional kind.
The story goes that Max brought Shannon to the studio. Max was playing guitar on a track produced by Leon Michels — the producer and co-founder of Big Crown Records — and Michels needed a vocalist. They put Shannon in the booth to try it out. It was her first time ever recording. Then, in one take, the song "Strange Boy" had a singer who completed the vibe. The Shacks were born.
There are elements of doo-wop and early, pre-Elvis rock in their musicianship. Combine that with a deeply personal songwriting approach and it's a familiar-yet-fresh sound. Like The Five Keys met Neil Young and cut a record with Brigitte Bardot — but in English.
Here's the thing: Max and Shannon are barely in their twenties. Most of their musical influences are from before they were born. It's contradictions like this that signify something intriguing is happening with The Shacks.
Max and Shannon met while going to the same NYC high school. By that time, Max was already a musical wunderkind.
Raised in Princeton, NJ, at fourteen Max emailed Gabe Roth of Daptone Records with a rough, home-recorded demo. By seventeen, he had penned the lead single, "Sinner," on Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens' 2014 Cold World LP.
Shannon comes from a strong musical pedigree. Her father, a producer, ran a Manhattan recording studio, and her mother is a singer-songwriter. Artists and bands of all stripes passed through her life growing up. While her history isn't yet as extensive as Max's, she's writing it right now. Her infectious, eclectic voice and songwriting skills are testaments to her remarkable natural talent.
Their first record together, entitled Haze and forthcoming on Big Crown Records, is jointly produced by Shrager and Michels. Each song sounds both like an exploration and reflection of the relationship between Shannon and Max. You can hear a kind of invigorating creativity between them — songs written for and about each other, trying to express the inexpressible aspects of youth and love.
"We just want people to get excited about real music again," says Max. "When we record we try to capture what's happening — in our lives, things between us, something in the studio that day, just something honest. Not something pieced together and hyperreal."
In a modern culture where most music is manufactured and artificial, Max Shrager and Shannon Wise want to introduce their generation to a more honest kind of music. A kind that's written from life and made with integrity and value. And all this before either of them can rent a car.
$12 advance/ $14 day of show