This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by The Nervous Shakedown. The review was written by Gavin Miller in 2004.
The White Stripes have a lot to answer for. Not only did they prompt the entire record industry to sign any band with a 'The' in the title, but they also made every label sign up the obligatory dirty blues riffage band. Sometimes they get it right (The Black Keys and The Kills for example) and sometimes they get it so very wrong (Jet, for example).
The Nervous Shakedown are neither of those examples, but some kind of hybrid between the two. They have the dirty guitar riffs, the plodding beats and the grizzled vocals, but it all somehow falls short.
First track "Song From Lila" is a chugging storm of overdriven guitars and shouty vocals. The main problem with it is that it sounds very, and I mean very, studio produced. So the guitars are the main feature, the drums can barely be heard, and when they are, they sound one dimensional and lifeless. Even the vocals sound very 'close', i.e. they've been recorded in one take, and nothing has been done to them (no reverb or anything!)
"Habit" is more like it. Slow and churning, it recalls all those old blues tracks you used to nod your head to when your dad had some dodgy compilation on his car stereo. It's probably the best track here, and at points sounds like a more 'produced' Black Keys song. Very gritty and lo-fi. We like.
Last track "Deadliest Man Alive" is more of the same dirty blues riffage. Damn, the drums just came in and ruined everything. I bet this band kick ass live, but this CD ain't doing them any favours. The lyrics are pretty suspect here too - "he said 'hey motherfucker you're in my bed' / two seconds later, motherfucker was dead". See what I mean? Will the real Jet please stand up?
The Nervous Shakedown obviously have a good idea. It's just a shame that this CD sounds as if it were mixed on a Friday afternoon at 6pm, when no one could be arsed to make it sound better than it should. My advice would be to go listen to "Thickfreakness" by The Black Keys, and then go and record again. This CD should sound excellent, as the tunes are pretty cool, but the über flat mix makes it sound pretty dull.