Album Review: Shady Oaks – MAD

The Breakdown

A brilliant representation of a band who at first listen could be thought of as a straight rock band, but after only a few tracks, become much more than that.

Psychedelic, garage rockers Shady Oaks share their riff heavy, head banger of a debut album ‘MAD’.

Opening with a tight fuzzy guitar riff of ‘3AM’, to my ear the unmistakable sound of a Z.Vex Fuzz Factory (I might be wrong but just thought I’d bizarrely flex some of my guitar pedal obsession), the band quickly showcase the grinding, intricate guitar riffs prevalent throughout the album. As a shuffling beat enters the resulting soundscape is refreshingly tuneful, psychedelic feel – heavy but still bright and considered, not trashy, instead leaning on an almost classic rock feel.

The husky lead vocals soon enter, complimented by some subtle female harmonies, subtly swelling synths enter as the track begins to pick up steam before breaking out into another instrumental section. Entering a psychedelic mid break, the track ends on an explosive, messy and brilliant expressive guitar solo.

Track two ‘DAZED’ takes on a more tractional punk rock approach before breaking into a fittingly stylistic riff. Following a similar structure the track enters a more gentle mid section before again bursting to life with a wild guitar solo to close.

Track 3, ‘home’ offers yet another tone to the bands sound, with a country-rock indie soundscape akin to early Kings Of Leon with a splash of Free for good measure with fingered picked guitars and a warming restraint.

Elsewhere ‘DYIN” takes takes a swipe at modern life with witty, biting lyricism and the same blend of hard-rock and a country undertone whilst ‘better days’ once again takes a different approach, more considered with gentle beat under layers of atmospheric slide guitar and delicate vocals before breaking into a heroically expressive climax.

The album’s title track ‘MAD’ keeps the classic rock feel with a slight ska undertone to contrast the dark rock tone. Delay drenched guitar lines and an ominous, slow rhythm give the track a warming psychedelic edge before the track breaks out into a stylistic explosive climax. A representation of some of the examples of the blends of genres which make the band so interesting.

Closing the album with the atmospheric, gentle airy approach of ‘alone’ the band close out an album of dark and light, of melancholic expression and at times, explosive energy.

A brilliant representation of a band who at first listen could be thought of as a straight rock band but after only a few tracks become much more than that. There’s emotional and musical depth across the 13 tracks of ‘MAD’ – it’s a stunning collection of work full of excellent guitar sounds and beautiful ideas. From expressive and head banging, to slow, gentle and considered and some stunning intertwining male, female vocals, the album is a vibrant, exciting listen.

There’s a lot to be said about the bands clear passion from making music as well as the creative ideas on show. Well worth multiple listens.

Previous Track: New Melbourne supergroup, The Silversound (Shane O'Mara, Andrew Tanner, Stu Thomas & Leroy Cope) invite us to sway along to trippy first song, Shaker, taken from imminent "debut" album.
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