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Sign the Line

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Album Review

When the Rolling Stones were first figuring out how to bend the blues tunes they'd been playing into something more like rock & roll in the early '60s, they would probably never have guessed that they were creating a sonic template other bands would be following for decades to come, and in 2005 Thee Shams are only the latest band to offer listeners their own version of the hard, dirty sound Mick and Keef perfected all those years ago. But while it's impossible to ignore Thee Shams' primal influence on their second long-player, Sign the Line, this Cincinnati five-piece has the smarts to take the blues-shot framework of the Stones' approach and use it as a starting point rather than a finish line. Andrew Gabbard's big fuzzy guitar lines have a similar relationship to traditional blues structures as the Stones did without suggesting he's modeling his licks after any particular guitarist, Zachary Gabbard' s vocals have a raw-boned swagger that's very much his own, and while the way the keyboards (by Joey Sebaali) bounce against the guitars betrays a 1960s influence, Sign the Line is the work of a band more interested in rock that's powerful and elemental than stuff that's simply old. "Not Gonna Make It" is rough and muscular, "Something Happening" has groove to spare, "Survive" is low-key but compelling, "I Want You Back" is an unexpected blast of hard-edged pop, and "Hallelujah" brings things to a close in contemplative fashion. In short, Thee Shams aren't just another blues-flavored garage outfit, and Sign the Line shows they have smarts, sonic diversity, and strong songwriting chops working in their favor, and this is well worth a listen.

Sign the Line, Thee Shams
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: Jan 01, 2005

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