The songs of Chapel Hill quartet Shakermaker give the past and the present equal footing: Working primarily with lush ballads and driving pop jangles, Shakermaker is very tuneful but slightly psychedelic, Merseybeat with slurred speech, a combination that offers both immediate attraction and escape. A banjo shares space with big-reverb vocals on "Clocker Abergain," which plays on lyrics about parties and mothers. Nostalgic words about fighting old wars ("Doves Overhead") and mom's food with dad's lessons (the beautiful "Bleed the Brakes") sit comfortably with hope for present lovers (the sublime album highlight "Dandelions") and anxious insomnia ("Into the Night"). Spectral harmonies and mercurial textures chase bright choruses like low-lying morning clouds, and acoustic guitar orthodoxy gets undercut with steel guitar washes and countering keyboard and glockenspiel melodies. And that excellent steel guitar work comes courtesy of Thomas Moorefield, father of Shakermaker co-leader Jesse Moorefield.
The 11 tunes constituting the band's self-titled second LP are certainly enjoyable, even if they blur into a monotone over the record's 36 minutes. Together—sparked by capable multi-instrumentalists lining their songs with subtle, provocative textures—they suggest a band that's evolved plenty but still has plenty of room and ability to evolve. Pick this up, and hope it's a pretty primer.
Shakermaker plays a CD release party at Local 506 with Hundred Air and Wembley Thursday, April 17, at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free.