Review: Jack Foley
I MUST confess that Shack were pretty new to me, when first I
took the CD out of the envelope and looked at the cover.
But they have been around for some time, it seems. Formerly known
as The Pale Fountains, back in the Eighties, they then renamed
themselves Shack and narrowly missed out on the album of the year
award from several magazines with their 1999 album, HMS
That was four years ago. And things have been pretty quiet since
Yet if the publicity is to be believed, then the oddly-titled
new album, Here's Tom With The Weather, merely serves to
confirm Liverpool-born brothers, Michal and John Head, as two
of the most promising singer/songwriters of their generation.
The name of the album actually refers to the Bill Hicks' sketch,
where he talks about the kind of positive news stories he'd like
to see; (imitating a news anchor), and this positivity is echoed
throughout the record.
For here are 12 songs which effortlessly make you feel good,
without really trying.
The Head brothers cite The Beatles, Love, Nick Drake and The
Beach Boys as some of their influences, while also sounding like
an infinitely more breezy version of Turin Brakes (courtesy of
their acoustic grounding), and the Oasis of tracks such as Talk
And it is a rich and diverse listen, occasionally a little too
sweet for its own good, and a little bland, but generally sounding
like the perfect accompaniment to this hottest of Summer's.
The guitars are a particularly strong factor in helping the album
to succeed, while the Nick Drake strings, Latin percussions and
Mexicana interjections do much to enliven it at certain points.
In fact, the second half of the album is actually stronger than
the chilled out first; although things get off to a beautiful
start with the lush wish fulfillment of tracks such as As Long
As I've Got You and The Girl With The Long Brown Hair,
with dreamy lyrics such as 'she plays old movies through the night',
which conjure many a wonderful image.
Elsewhere, the psychedelic folk of tracks such as On The Terrace
and Soldier Man recall the hazy, carefree days of the Summer
of Love, while Meant To Be is where the brothers sound
most like the classic B-sides of Noel-voiced Oasis.
Where it differs, however, is in the trip down old Mexico way
it takes midway through, lending the track a far more epic, sweeping
feel than the gentle simplicity of the Gallagher brothers' style
of songwriting. It almost catches you off-guard, but you can't
help but nod your head in fond appreciation.
The more plugged in sound of On The Streets Tonight, which
is populated by colourful characters and some great electric guitar
interludes, is a really great record, and a single in the making,
which effortlessly recalls the heyday of Brit-pop, while the layered,
almost moody sound of Chinatown, which captures Shack at
their grittiest, is a really terrific listen.
And all the while, Head's vocals are perfectly-realised, delivering
several soothing lullabies that never threaten to dwarf the subtlety
of the guitars.
The album only really falters during the watered down moments
of tracks such as Camden Town and Miles Apart, which
don't really go anywhere, but this shouldn't detract from an otherwise
great, if acquired, listen.
In the final analysis, the weather forecast on this one is all
1. As Long As I've Got You
2. Soldier Man
3. Byrds Turn To Stone
4. The Girl With The Long Brown Hair
5. On The Terrace
6. Miles Apart
7. Meant To Be
9. On The Streets Tonight
11. Camden Road
12. Happy Everafter