Pure blues, grit, and in the midst of what sounds like a stumbling, intoxicated live performance, two-piece New Yorkers, Keith Zarriello and Jo Schornikow, or The Shivers, tremble through thin songs with aching vocals and shaking, lucid drums.
With their new album, “More,” dropping on May 10th, The Shivers have been accumulating a pile of upcoming tour dates around the states and Pitchfork’s calling them “some of the most talented and compelling song-crafters in recent years releases.”
That’s not necessarily the case.
While their hit single, “Used to Be,” sounds like a fun little experience, there’s nothing in here that really makes one think that they’re the most talented and compelling songwriters in recent years. Nothing in their little ba-ba-ba choruses scream refreshing and unheard of lyrical talent.
That being said, it’s not a shitty headache like most of the blistering “indie” cutesy-kitsch ear-wounds that are eating up the airwaves and tour circuits like a flesh-eating virus.
However, you go back to the year 2004, when Zarriello released his single, “Beauty,” off their album, “Charades.” Now that’s some compelling songwriting, with razor blade lyrics that ravage an already bruised heart to shreds.
With Schornikow on piano and Zarriello on guitar and voice, the two of them do create a purity here. Maybe it was more powerful on “Charades”, and “More,” might leave you wanting just that, but at the end of it, there’s respect in what they’re doing, the rawness, the realness. It’s nothing overproduced; it comes off small and maybe a little slow, but it’s honest, it’s true, it has integrity, even if it’s not something that’s going to halt you in your tracks and turn your head around.
“Kisses,” seems to sum up the whole thing pretty well. At least I certainly hope so, as it’s definitely the most interesting track on the album, and if the band performs live like this, it’s a show I’d definitely catch.
Bluesy and off the cuff, the bare bones organ throws down this hard foundation. Zarriello seeming to improve in these drunkenly woozy gruff shouts, there’s a half-wasted sounding audience hooting in the background. Zariello growls out that “You’re gunna have to squeal for my love, like a pig…” So that’s pretty much where the song is going. It conjures this dark, stinky-ass little bar with sticky tabletops and a crowd fucked up on drugs and leaning their chins on their hands while Zariello is probably crawling around on a creaking wooden stage covered in cigarette butts.
The Shivers have released four albums in six years, and this last one here was recorded in an all-analogue studio. Sure, technology is just a neutral tool, but pure determination of a chosen style is respectable, and with old-school grit blues like “Kisses,” it seems to work for The Shivers, who make New York City into a tangible sound.