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Shangrala - This Is How We Communicate Album Cover

Shangrala - This Is How We Communicate

Reviewed by
8.0
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
ShangralaThis Is How We Communicate
Record Label: Twinhead Records
Release Date: November 16, 2007

Not since my last sociology paper have I had this much trouble filling up a blank word document. (Screw the “rule” that says we can’t talk about how hard it is to write about something as irrational as musical predilections.) Allow me a second to cry: wahhh wahhh, this is hard! My frustration came because I really enjoy This Is How We Communicate, but I couldn’t think of a proper way to introduce you all. The semi-electronic, sorta orchestrated, fairly dark and constantly thoughtful pop-rock record beckons the listener with earnest. But, like, my gimmick is a strange, usually abstract comparison between the music and food/made up philosophies/puns in parentheses. That’s my thing! How can I have trouble doing my thing?! I can’t talk about music for this long! I’m finished. Whatever, I’m taking this review off. Vincent F. will be filling in.

What’s that? I can’t invent an alter ego? Butttttt, fine, you win!

Recently I reviewed Brave Citizens’ latest EP and wondered how their sound would translate on a full-length. Shangrala supplied my answer. Their trendy mix of accessible pop rock and dancey electronica keeps things zig-zagging through tempos and styles. The addition of strings on opener “Golden Streets” makes Jude Kahle’s flexible tenor sound even more elegant. Speaking of, elegant isn’t a word I use a whole lot. But it’s definitely warranted here. “Girls, Spiders & Rattlesnakes” plays the folktronica card with light vocals which are produced to bounce all around your head. When the hip-hop snare beat enters, rhythmic head-bobbing begins instantly. Factor in descending notes on a violin and you have pop music for the most eclectic of music fans.

“Everything/Nothing” is highlighted by lush vocal harmonies (for you choir nerds, there is a “round” going on) and the vibrant pulsing of Will Hill’s bass. After the pretty lame line of “Protect yourself / Don’t wreck yourself,” we hear, “Everyone’s got a secret somewhere.” So true, and there are quite a few bands that would like to be flies on the wall while Shangrala penned tracks like this. I wish the ShangGang would give out some tips, sure would make my life (and everyone else’s) better. “Down In History” would be an excellent song for the self-aware, 21st Century cowboy. Yes, he does exist. An acoustic guitar and eerie slide guitar-esque electronics create a minimal yet ghostly atmosphere. Vocal harmonies, though, once again steal the show. And, really, I could write a whole review on just this song. Even on the “simpler” songs, Shangrala do wondrous things.

Everything tried on This Is How We Communicate works. On vastly different tracks like instrumental/totally digital “Walt’s Waltz” and handclap happy (handclappy) “Zilla”, mistakes are hardly made. Maybe, just maybe, the lyrics could be a bit stronger, but I’m a cheater and I’m looking over this minor flaw. They don’t suck or anything, but, you know (right?). If by some strange occurrence you opt to skip over this release, find your significant other and piss them off. You deserve a good slapping. If you’re single, put “San Blas” on a mixtape. You’ll be dating someone (and probably miserable) in no time.


Recommended If You Like: Brave Citizens, Bloc Party, mismatched socks, Division Day, fireflies


Bright and Hauntedwww.myspace.com/shangrala
 
Displaying posts 1 - 10 of 10
05:54 PM on 01/08/08
#2
Blake Solomon
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That's what she said!
11:22 AM on 01/09/08
#3
LikeACat
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Decent alt-rock release but some moments are too "chessy" for me to stomach.
11:55 AM on 01/09/08
#4
TheGreenSeas
...are nice
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awesome album -- a lot of talent displayed here.
it's about time somebody on here talks about this band.
11:55 AM on 01/09/08
#5
jweld
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This album is excellent! Unique time signatures, awesome drumming and guitars, surprising arrangements.... I don't get LIKEACAT's "cheesy" comment. But to each his own. I dig the lyrics and the vocal harmonies. I agree that it is hard to explain shangrala's unique sound. I love it!
02:09 PM on 01/09/08
#6
LikeACat
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This album is excellent! Unique time signatures, awesome drumming and guitars, surprising arrangements.... I don't get LIKEACAT's "cheesy" comment. But to each his own. I dig the lyrics and the vocal harmonies. I agree that it is hard to explain shangrala's unique sound. I love it!

Neither do I really, I don't know quite what it is but I think it has something to do with vocals.
06:35 PM on 01/09/08
#7
di_young
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these guys are pretty sweet live, i saw them a while back and i'm definately checking out the new album
10:55 PM on 01/09/08
#8
Shooter McGavin
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who need the television writers when you've got this to read. Good stuff as usual.
12:04 AM on 01/10/08
#9
Ryzenfall
makin' good time
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awesome album -- a lot of talent displayed here.
it's about time somebody on here talks about this band.

Nice avatar sir.
02:51 AM on 02/02/08
CircaSin
The All-New 2014 Corolla
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I second that.

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