The Evening Shades – Alright

Evening Shades Front cover 1500

The Evening Shades – Alright

There are seven songs on my copy of the first album from The Evening Shades, although there are more than that number of songs to be found in their online music player. This isn’t in any sense a complaint – the five additional tracks on the bands site are at least as listenable as those on Alright but for the purposes of this review I’ve decided to only write about the actual album tracks that I received. A band with an established reputation around their Oregon hometown of Medford, Alright appears to have been released in August of last year and, by some lengthier than is usual process, a copy found its way to my review inbox at the end of April. Then, when preparing this article, I read another review which described Alright as having not seven, but twelve tracks. This isn’t exactly confusing, although I did just spend around a week listening to only slightly more than half of the actual release and so this review is, by necessity, a partly abbreviated one.

So, what can I tell you about the seven track mini-album version of Alright that I’ve been listening to? Well, The Evening Shades play adrenaline-fuelled, sharply turned out and literate garage-rock, influenced by The Strokes, Fountains Of Wayne and Weezer in more or less equal parts. Certainly, opening track “Forgive Me” is a cleverly played nod towards The Strokes’ “Last Nite”, albeit one that only owes its rhythm to the NY maestros, as The Evening Shades bring a propulsive energy to the song itself. “Game Show” continues The Strokes-influenced vibe and it’s a creditable reminder of exactly how listenable they remain, over a decade on from the heyday of Is This It and Room On Fire.

This would be acceptable as it is from a band such as The Evening Shades, but the songwriting doesn’t end with a neatly-phrased reassessment of “Hard To Explain’. Third track “It’s All About You” takes Alright away from garage-rock retreads and towards the kind of numbers that The Evening Shades are quite capable of bringing. Definitely the highlight of my 7-track download, and reminiscent of exactly the sort of smartly written power-pop that isn’t heard often enough these days, a tale of relationship strife about an anonymous couple whose life could perhaps improve – “We all know somebody like them” runs the lyric, over a blistering powerpop tune that could’ve been written for The Knack. “Here And Now” is less frantic in its pacing, allowing its instrumental-break to take a detour into the skate-punk enclosure and then the other actual highlight of my copy of Alright, fifth track “Sacred” has a confidence and intricate timing in its guitar riffs that places The Evening Shades far beyond any description of them as mere copyists. It’s just too good a song.

Forget my preamble about whether I had the complete album or not. Of the seven tracks on my download copy of Alright, at least two of them are minor classics and the other five aren’t exactly dull either. With so much electronica floating around nowadays, a guitar-based band with the unerring ability to draw just as much from their songs as they can take and that, while they don’t make any great pretence at being very original are entirely in control of their songs and instruments, are always going to find a receptive audience. Maybe their next album will take them in a more experimental post-rock direction but for now The Evening Shades are giving us some classic power-pop vibes of the kind that never really go out of style.